Being Impossible

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Being Impossible
Yo imposible poster.jpg
Directed byPatricia Ortega
Written byPatricia Ortega, Enmanuel Chávez
StarringLucía Bedoya
María Elena Duque
Belkis Avilladares
Music byÁlvaro Morales
CinematographyMateo Guzmán
Edited byMauricio Vergara
Distributed byMedia Luna
Release date
CountryVenezuela
Colombia
LanguageSpanish

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.

Synopsis[edit]

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.

Production[edit]

A crowdfunding video campaign for the production

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.[1] 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.[2]

The lead actress, Lucía Bedoya, was studying drama at the University of Valle when the film was made.[1] It is reported that her character's name, Ariel, was chosen because it is both a feminine and masculine name.[3]

The film won Women in Film LA's Film Finishing Fund in 2018,[1] which was used to complete the film, which only required color correction at the time of the award.[4] It was also partially funded by a Venezuelan Centro Nacional Autónomo de Cinematografía grant (one of the last films to receive such),[5] 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.[6]

The film was shot on a RED Scarlet 4K,[1] in the town of La Trampa, Mérida and Caracas, in 2016.[5]

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.[6] 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.[5] 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."[7] The film was not shown in Venezuela in 2019,[8] and has a release date of 17 January 2020.[9]

Analysis[edit]

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.[10] Raphaël Jullien believes that the film shows a critique of life in contemporary Venezuela, noting the traditional gender roles and binary enforced by characters.[11]

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.[11] 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.[12]

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.[13]

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".[14]

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.[3]

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.[3]

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".[3]

Reception[edit]

The film trailer for Yo, imposible

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".[10] 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.[15] 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.[16]

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.[11] 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".[12]

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.[5]

Accolades[edit]

The film was part of the 2019 South by Southwest Official Selection,[17] with its US release on 9 March 2019,[18] where it was nominated for the Gamechanger Award.[19] It has also been official selection at multiple festivals, including the 2018 Havana Film Festival,[20] where it was nominated for the Unete Award, getting Special Recognition,[5] 2019 Maryland Film Festival, 2019 Guadalajara International Film Festival,[20] 2019 Toronto International Film Festival,[17] and at the 2018 Valladolid International Film Festival, where it won the Rainbow Spike award.[20] 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.[5] 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.[21] It was shown in Venezuela (at the festival) on 18 and 23 June 2019.[22] In September 2019, the film was chosen as Venezuela's selection to be nominated for the Academy Award for Best International Feature Film.[23]

Year Event Award Recipients Result Ref.
2018 Havana Film Festival Únete Award Being Impossible Special Recognition [5]
Valladolid International Film Festival Rainbow Spike Award Being Impossible Won [20]
2019 Femme Revolution Film Fest Best Construction of a Female Character Patricia Ortega Won [5]
Amsterdam LGBTI Film Festival Audience Award Being Impossible Won [5]
Reflections of Spanish and Latin American Cinema Festival Audience Award Being Impossible Won [5]
South by Southwest Gamechanger Award Patricia Ortega Nominated [19]
Havana Film Festival Maguey Award Being Impossible Won [24]
Venezuelan Film Festival Best Director Patricia Ortega Won [21]
Best Actress Lucía Bedoya Won
Best Supporting Actress María Elena Duque[7] 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 [25]
XII International LGBTI Film Festival by Movilh Best Film Being Impossible Won [26]
Santo Domingo OutFest Outstanding Performance Lucía Bedoya Won [27]
Taipei Film Festival International New Talent Competition - Grand Prize Patricia Ortega Nominated [28]
2020 Academy Awards Best International Feature Film Being Impossible Not nominated[a] [30]
Platino Awards Best Director Patricia Ortega

TBD

[31]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Submitted by the CNAC, not included in the December shortlist by the Academy.[29]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d "Being Impossible by Patricia Ortega". Media Luna. Retrieved 23 June 2019.
  2. ^ "'Yo imposible', by Patricia Ortega, showcases intersexuality". Seminci. 21 October 2018. Retrieved 23 June 2019.
  3. ^ a b c d Belloto, Vivian. "14º Festival de Cinema Latino-Americano de São Paulo". Retrieved 27 August 2019.
  4. ^ Rodriguez, Michelle (3 November 2018). ""Yo, Imposible", largometraje venezolano galardonado por la comunidad LGBTI española". Segundo Enfoque (in Spanish). Retrieved 23 June 2019.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Gutiérrez, Julio (11 April 2019). "Patricia Ortega: "Mi película 'Yo, imposible' vuela por el mundo"". Panorama (in Spanish). Retrieved 23 June 2019.
  6. ^ a b Stewart, Sophia (7 March 2019). "SXSW 2019 Women Directors: Meet Patricia Ortega – "Being Impossible"". Women and Hollywood. Retrieved 23 June 2019.
  7. ^ a b Egaña, Crysly (19 September 2019). "Yo, imposible será la representante venezolana en la carrera por el Oscar". EL NACIONAL (in Spanish). Retrieved 28 September 2019.
  8. ^ Parra, Yenderson (26 December 2019). "El cine nacional vivió en el año 2019 uno de sus peores periodos". El Nacional (in Spanish). Retrieved 16 January 2020.
  9. ^ "Género dramático predomina en el cine criollo por estrenar". Últimas Noticias (in Spanish). 9 January 2020. Retrieved 16 January 2020.
  10. ^ a b "Being Impossible: Reviews". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 23 June 2019.
  11. ^ a b c "À corps et à cris (Yo, imposible, A film by Patricia Ortega)". Abus de ciné (in French). Retrieved 23 June 2019.
  12. ^ a b "'Yo, imposible', o la sutil delicadeza de Patricia Ortega". Fotogramas (in Spanish). 20 October 2018. Retrieved 23 June 2019.
  13. ^ "Venezuelan Drama 'Yo, Imposible' Is an Intimate Look at a Woman Who Discovers She Was Born Intersex". Remezcla. 7 May 2019. Retrieved 27 August 2019.
  14. ^ "Sunday 4th August: Being Impossible". Gaze. Retrieved 15 August 2019.
  15. ^ "Being Impossible Program Notes". MD Film Fest. Retrieved 23 June 2019.
  16. ^ "Inside Out 2019: Our Review of 'Yo Imposible (Being Impossible)'". In The Seats. 22 May 2019. Retrieved 23 June 2019.
  17. ^ a b "Being Impossible". Inside Out. Retrieved 23 June 2019.
  18. ^ "Being Impossible". SXSW. Retrieved 23 June 2019.
  19. ^ a b "Being Impossible". Australian Centre for the Moving Image. Retrieved 23 June 2019.
  20. ^ a b c d "Yo, imposible Awards". MUBI. Retrieved 23 June 2019.
  21. ^ a b "CINE / 15° Festival del Cine Venezolano: Premios Para Una Producción Que Resiste". CCNES Noticias. 21 June 2019. Retrieved 23 June 2019.
  22. ^ "Eventos por productora". Ticket Mundo. Retrieved 23 June 2019.
  23. ^ Mango, Agustin (21 September 2019). "Oscars: Venezuela Selects 'Being Impossible' for International Feature Film Category". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 21 September 2019.
  24. ^ "FICG | Festival Internacional de Cine en Guadalajara - FESTIVAL EN COLABORACIÓN PREMIO MAGUEY ENQUEERATE". www.ficg.mx. Retrieved 28 September 2019.
  25. ^ "Yo Imposible". www.facebook.com. Retrieved 27 August 2019.
  26. ^ "Película "Yo Imposible" gana el XII Festival Internacional de Cine LGTBI". El Desconcierto (in Spanish). 4 December 2019. Retrieved 4 December 2019.
  27. ^ "Santo Domingo OutFest (2019)". IMDb. Retrieved 16 December 2019.
  28. ^ "台北電影節 Taipei Film Festival". Taipei FF. Retrieved 16 December 2019.
  29. ^ "Venezuela quedó fuera de la carrera por el Oscar". El Nacional (in Spanish). Retrieved 16 January 2020.
  30. ^ González, Juan Antonio (19 September 2019). ""Yo, imposible" seleccionada por Venezuela para optar al Óscar". El Universal. Retrieved 20 September 2019.
  31. ^ "Los VII Premios Platino van en México. RD ha presentado al menos 11 filmes". DiarioDigitalRD (in Spanish). 11 January 2020. Retrieved 16 January 2020.

External links[edit]