|Directed by||Patricia Ortega|
|Written by||Patricia Ortega, Enmanuel Chávez|
María Elena Duque
|Music by||Álvaro Morales|
|Edited by||Mauricio Vergara|
|Distributed by||Media Luna|
Being Impossible, originally released as Yo, imposible (English: I, Impossible or Impossible Me) is a 2018 Venezuelan drama film created by Patricia Ortega. It features an intersex main character played by Colombian actress Lucía Bedoya, who has been widely praised for her performance.
The film has been shown internationally at many festivals, and won several awards, including six at the Venezuelan Film Festival. The film has been critically reviewed, with a mixed response, and analyzed in depth by film and intersex issue writers. It was selected as the Venezuelan entry for the Best International Feature Film at the 92nd Academy Awards, but it was not nominated.
Ariel (Lucía Bedoya) tries to have a sexual encounter with her boyfriend, which she finds painful. She mentions this to her mother, Dolores (María Elena Duque), who is ill with cancer, who recommends visiting a doctor. Their relationship is strained, as Ariel has been trying to act on her mother's wishes that she fulfill a stereotypical female role in life. Finding no easy cure, Ariel learns from her doctor Clemencia that she was born intersex and was submitted to a series of surgeries as a child to conform to a female body. Ariel must come to terms with her gender identity whilst exploring a new relationship with her female co-worker, Ana, and question if she wants to continue life as a woman.
Ortega has said that the idea for the film, her second feature, came from societally-imposed expectations of her role and her body as a woman. She wanted to explore the life of an intersex person, but tackles issues that resonate with people who have had to stand up to society and demand their own bodily autonomy or freedom of sexuality. After meeting "the first" intersex girl in Venezuela, Ortega realised that the topic was never discussed and, if anything, was studied as a curiosity. Wanting to learn the view of intersex in the rest of the world, Ortega spoke to different international groups, hearing stories that she used to help write the film.
The lead actress, Lucía Bedoya, was studying drama at the University of Valle when the film was made. It is reported that her character's name, Ariel, was chosen because it is both a feminine and masculine name.
The film won Women in Film LA's Film Finishing Fund in 2018, which was used to complete the film, which only required color correction at the time of the award. It was also partially funded by a Venezuelan Centro Nacional Autónomo de Cinematografía grant (one of the last films to receive such), and qualified for funding from Colombia because of its Colombian-minority cast and crew. In 2015, the producers had been awarded some funding from the Meeting of Producers at the Cartagena Film Festival. Despite this, they still had to use crowdfunding to complete the film.
The production had some problems, mostly from the Crisis in Venezuela; rampant hyperinflation quickly used up their budget, and scenes had to filmed around the constant street protests in the nation. The film has yet to be commercially released in Venezuela, because of the electricity crisis at the time it was intended to be released; it was planned to be premiered at the end of 2019 in three cinemas across the country, though Ortega said at the time of the announcement that before that could happen she would need to print theatre posters for the film herself. Similarly, Ortega expressed concern about finances for marketing the film through its nomination to the Academy Awards, but said that the surprise selection was "like being given a foot that lets you continue working." The film was not shown in Venezuela in 2019, and has a release date of 17 January 2020.
Beatrice Loayza comments on the social context of the film's production, in a Venezuela that is ignoring gay rights laws, and how important it therefore is that it did not end tragically, as could be expected normally, making it especially poignant in a film set in a place where LGBT+ people are not talked about. Raphaël Jullien believes that the film shows a critique of life in contemporary Venezuela, noting the traditional gender roles and binary enforced by characters.
Jullien compares Being Impossible to the Argentinian film XXY, also about an intersex youth, saying that XXY's power lies with the suspense of not knowing Alex's troubles, whereas Being Impossible "annihilates any suspense" by placing testimonies from people of non-conforming gender identity at the start of the film. Jullien adds that since the scene where Ariel meets this group is so powerful and moving, the cold open would have been better used as an epilogue. Carlos Loureda also comments on the testimonies, but instead suggests that they merely do not add anything to the film, saying they are "undoubtedly interesting" but that the fictional narrative is strong enough to convey the truth without them.
Loayza also mentions the award-winning music, describing how the "droning background score [...] overwhelms the senses even in moments of quiet reflection", commenting on how beyond image and story that music of the film also contributes to its theme of a lack of control. She then discusses how the color palette used the film is of natural, muted, tones, being used as an aid to highlight the impoverished area of Venezuela where it is set without outright addressing the nation's crisis, as well as making spots of color, often red, more meaningful, such as the blood shed by Ariel after her first experience of sex or bright red lipstick on mirrors used to write homophobic messages.
Writers for the Gaze film festival looked at the film both in terms of and beyond the intersex experience, calling it a "thought-provoking inquiry into the nature of how we as human beings allow our physical beings to determine our mental and spiritual identities".
Vivian Belloto's analysis looks at the presentation of bodies in the film. She talks about its juxtaposition of mannequin forms with the bodies of the main characters, noting how Ortega "constantly uses mannequins as a symbolic form of body standardization", and also talks about the cinematography, mentioning shots blurring characters or showing them through mirrors, which she describes as "a call for self-awareness" and says is used "to emphasize the particularities of each body present". At the start of the film, images of bodies are relegated to the edges of the screen to deliberately obscure expectations of narrative, which Belloto says also alerts the audience to ignorance of one's body.
The character Ariel also works at a clothing factory, showing her confinement within a place full of things used to define and conceal bodies; it is also a social space entirely full of women. In the factory, Belloto writes that the choice of shot focusing on the eyes when Ariel and a new worker steal glances at each other shows the construct barring homosexuality in society and specifically in a single-sex space; looking at the eyes, especially when the film has otherwise shown bodies, represents the restriction to looking and not touching, as well as cropping only to the eyes also allowing another shot, of the eyes of a different employee who sees the glances, to be seamlessly shown though alternatively being a glace that is judgmental of homosexuality.
Belloto describes a moment when Ariel destroys a medical dildo she has been prescribed treatment with as showing "the non-acceptance of the culture of penetration and false normalization of bodies".
Critics were divided on the film, but generally positive. Beatrice Loayza says that it has "an empowering and incredibly progressive conclusion". However, Raquel Stecher believes that it is "a heavy-handed story" and that audiences "will be overwhelmed by the subject matter". Scott Braid highly praised many aspects of the film, including the story it tells and the "incredible performance of smouldering intensity" that Bedoya gives, as well as its cinematography and direction. Paolo Kagaoan also complements Bedoya's performance, but overall finds the film too ambitious, writing that it falls short in some of the areas it chooses to focus on. Kagaoan does commend the intersex representation, though.
Raphaël Jullien writes about how meticulous Ortega's articulation of shots and use of symbolism are, despite some shortcomings in composition; he concludes that though they set off on the wrong foot, it is "a very beautiful film on gender identity" and is pleased with its optimistic ending. Carlos Loureda praises the film and Bedoya strongly, calling it "one of the most beautiful films of the year" and Bedoya "an actress who overflows the big screen".
The film has won several Audience Awards at festivals, which Ortega says she appreciates because it shows that the "difficult" subject is accepted much more easily in other parts of the world to Venezuela.
The film was part of the 2019 South by Southwest Official Selection, with its US release on 9 March 2019, where it was nominated for the Gamechanger Award. It has also been official selection at multiple festivals, including the 2018 Havana Film Festival, where it was nominated for the Unete Award, getting Special Recognition, 2019 Maryland Film Festival, 2019 Guadalajara International Film Festival, 2019 Toronto International Film Festival, and at the 2018 Valladolid International Film Festival, where it won the Rainbow Spike award. In 2019, it won the Best Construction of a Female Character award at Mexico's Femme Revolution Film Fest, the Best Mix Feature Audience Award presented by Out TV at the Amsterdam LGBTI Film Festival, and the Audience Award at the Reflections of Spanish and Latin American Cinema Festival in Villeurbanne. It was screened in Venezuela in June 2019 at the 15th Venezuelan Film Festival, where it won the Best Director, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actress, Best Screenplay, Best Music, and Best Casting awards. It was shown in Venezuela (at the festival) on 18 and 23 June 2019. In September 2019, the film was chosen as Venezuela's selection to be nominated for the Academy Award for Best International Feature Film.
|2018||Havana Film Festival||Únete Award||Being Impossible||Special Recognition|||
|Valladolid International Film Festival||Rainbow Spike Award||Being Impossible||Won|||
|2019||Femme Revolution Film Fest||Best Construction of a Female Character||Patricia Ortega||Won|||
|Amsterdam LGBTI Film Festival||Audience Award||Being Impossible||Won|||
|Reflections of Spanish and Latin American Cinema Festival||Audience Award||Being Impossible||Won|||
|South by Southwest||Gamechanger Award||Patricia Ortega||Nominated|||
|Havana Film Festival||Maguey Award||Being Impossible||Won|||
|Venezuelan Film Festival||Best Director||Patricia Ortega||Won|||
|Best Actress||Lucía Bedoya||Won|
|Best Supporting Actress||María Elena Duque||Won|
|Best Screenplay||Patricia Ortega, Enmanuel Chávez||Won|
|Best Music||Álvaro Morales||Won|
|Best Casting||Luis Castillo, Carolina Riveros||Won|
|Houston International LGBTQ Film Festival||Best Script||Patricia Ortega, Enmanuel Chávez||Won|||
|XII International LGBTI Film Festival by Movilh||Best Film||Being Impossible||Won|||
|Santo Domingo OutFest||Outstanding Performance||Lucía Bedoya||Won|||
|Taipei Film Festival||International New Talent Competition - Grand Prize||Patricia Ortega||Nominated|||
|2020||Academy Awards||Best International Feature Film||Being Impossible||Not nominated[a]|||
|Platino Awards||Best Director||Patricia Ortega||
- XXY – Argentinian film about intersex youth
- Both – Peruvian film about intersex issues
- Films about intersex
- List of submissions to the 92nd Academy Awards for Best International Feature Film
- List of Venezuelan submissions for the Academy Award for Best International Feature Film
- Submitted by the CNAC, not included in the December shortlist by the Academy.
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