The Extremaduran filmmaker Ainhoa Rodríguez presents her debut feature Brave Flash. A fiction, which draws on documentary film, places us in a rural town that seems to have been trapped in time, a place where the traditions and “norms” imposed by society centuries ago -and which today are more than outdated – little by little they have been suffocating the inhabitants. Especially women, who, after being subjected to a life based on devotion (religious, yes, but also towards their homes and their husbands), begin to long for something more, something to break them out of their monotony: it can be the desire or the hope, but it is certain that there must be a change.
Although, how to change what is already established? Simple, daring to break the rules. This is just what the filmmaker achieved with her work, and she did it in a captivating and mystical way.
We spoke with the person in charge of the feature film in the framework of the eleventh edition of FICUNAM, who told us about the challenges of framing such a local story in the midst of globalization and melancholy.
“Yes, it is true that there is a continuous duality”, comments Rodríguez, adding: “I do not want a corset in my life, much less in art and in the cinema, so I drink from everything that is at hand and from all the tools that I can use and that come in handy, apart from intuition. It is a film that drinks absolutely from the documentary, on the one hand, [y también] of naturalism, but at the same time, on the other, it has that suspense, that reinvention of reality, that magical realism, that surrealism, and it is an absolute contrast, a duality, but everything is like dancing the same dance”.
That in the technical section, but it is also present on the narrative side, in the sense that there seem to be two stories that, although intertwined, follow different paths and have different purposes. The women, in their homes or in the church, have their meetings and conversations, dance and focus on their daily lives, this without interfering with the men, who spend their days in the bar, drinking and talking about hunting. Both groups are a few steps away, but, in terms of interests, they are totally distant.
The importance of the local
The only thing that unites the groups is that they belong to the same place, that they are attached to the local. For the director, this did not go unnoticed. “I portrayed what I found, because I went to live in a small town for nine months, in the southwest of Spain, Extremadura, in the Tierra de Barros area, where my paternal family is from, my father, my paternal grandparents.”
And there came a point where the sense of belonging came together with the passion for telling stories from the truth, approaching everything from an intimate angle. For this reason, it was extremely important that, within the configuration of the group, actresses and actors who were not professionals were included, several of them who attended the sessions of a workshop on non-normative views in the cinema, which Ainhoa teaches to women from communities rural Spain.
“I really wanted to make my first film with non-actresses and non-actors from Extremadura […] Getting hold of the people, because in the end they are an absolutely captivating raw material, rich to play with, because in the end the cinema is nothing more than a game, so that was something that excited me”.
Later in the talk, that excessive enthusiasm for returning to the roots was confirmed, since Ainhoa tells us that, for her, everything in a production is reduced, according to her words, to the claim of identity. In order to capture this aspect, it is necessary to go back to the particular traits of a community, such as an accent. She also mentions that, as she sees it, if she works with people who come from the same land as one, she is working with “whole human beings.”
Loss, loneliness and transgression: live changing structures
Something that is nuclear for the tape Brave Flash, is the way he portrays loneliness after the loss of a loved one. With this in mind, the filmmaker set out to change what she captured on her trip to the town: “When I went to this town I met several cases of older women, I’m not going to tell you 20, but a couple, more than three , who in their old age, with the death of their husbands, locked themselves in their houses dressed in black to mourn them”.
As he comments, this caught his attention, since we are used to the traditional image of the widow who must be sad and who, when walking or dressing in colors, is committing a lack of respect. The truth is that, although it might seem that mourning, or the consequences of childhood and lost time, have to be borne solemnly, in reality this can be treated by trying new things, getting out of the routine.
“It is a very interesting topic, because it is very difficult for a lady who has this conception to take very big steps or to have a very big transgression.”
The filmmaker also acknowledges that the situations in the film are, as she puts it, the product of “reproducing my conversations with these women, by talking to them, for example, about feminism. Because it was very difficult for a woman who has a very structured life, that she has known such a life, that her place was to adore and accompany the man. Surely her husband is a good person, but it is very difficult to make them break their customs ”.
Mexico and Spain, twinned
Ainoha Rodríguez hopes that the Mexican public will connect with her story and her messages. She knows that our country and hers share many things. The connections are undeniable.
“I really believe that the theme that the film addresses, from patriarchal legacies, from the loss of identity, the need for heterogeneous cultural stories that show the culture of a country from the local, because we do not want a globalized world where everyone think alike and dress alike. [También están presentes temas como] the Catholic Church, the influence, the house or the legends, the fabulation, the magical realism”.
Furthermore, it adds:
“There are elements with which I believe that Mexico may have an important link with the film.”
Brave Flash opens on November 24, 2022 in select theaters in the Mexican Republic.
Jose Roberto Landaverde Movie buff and music lover. I am fascinated by writing, listening, reading and commenting on everything related to the seventh art. I’m a fan of Rocky and Back to the Future and obviously one day I’ll climb the “Philly Steps” and drive a DeLorean. Faithful believer that cinema is the best teleportation machine, and also that on the big screen we can all see ourselves represented. I constantly, like Scott Pilgrim, ask myself: “Does bread make you fat?”