Minerva Rivera Bolaños was born in Chihuahua, Chihuahua, in 1988. She studied Digital Filmmaking in Guadalajara, where she worked as a producer for six years. In 2013, she made her first short film, “So Simple in the Moonlight,” which was selected for the Brussels Short Film Festival. In 2014, she started studying Film Direction at the Centro de Capacitación Cinematográfica in Mexico City. The script of “Alejandra, I Love You” was a finalist at the 2016 National Scriptwriting Contest at the Guanajuato Film Festival.
Within the framework of this year’s 16 DAYS 16 FILMS initiative created by Modern Films and the Kering Foundation, a short film competition that platforms female filmmakers and their films, which explore, emote, and educate on forms of violence against women, Tara Karajica talks to Minerva R. Bolaños about her short film, “Alejandra, I Love You,” as well as her thoughts on the short form, women in film today and what she is up to next.
How did you get into filmmaking and what inspires you to make films?
Minerva Rivera Bolaños: I was living in Guadalajara, Jalisco, and studying Fine Arts and having second thoughts about arts, museums and plastic artists. I used to go to cinema clubs with grown-up people and I even founded my own cinema club at my Art School and enjoyed going to a little movie theater, where they showed arthouse films. One day, I went to watch this film by Kornél Mundruczó, “Delta,” in an amazing underground theater and was completely changed by the experience. When the film ended, I just thought: “That’s what I wanted to do” and couldn’t stop crying every time I watched it because it’s about intolerance; the message was so strong to me. And, that’s how I quit Fine Arts and started Digital Film in a small local school. After that, I decided to get a better education and moved to Mexico City to study at the Centro de Capacitación Cinematográfica, where I’m currently finishing my Thesis Film. What inspires me definitely is what I believe in, what I fight for, my ideals and my social duty to the spectator as a filmmaker. I believe film can’t escape from being politic, everything we do is political and has an impact on the people, especially with audiovisual media. So, my inspiration has to always come from my wish to create a better and fairer world.
Can you talk about your short film Alejandra, I Love You?
M.R.B.: Alejandra, I Love You is a song, a waltz actually. I came up with the idea because I had an abortion back in 2016 and felt so lonely. When I talked about it with my family and friends, I found out that almost all the women in my life had had an abortion, but no one talked about and carried it in silence and solitude, so I wanted Alejandra to have someone to share the experience with even though she needs to take the final decision on her own. And, I wanted to say to all these brave women: “I love you. I don’t judge you. Do what you think is best for you.” Also, the last version of the script came from my family’s experience and friends who have had children just because they didn’t know they had a choice, or back in their times, like my grandma, just didn’t have a choice. When my grandma died, I just wondered what she would have really wanted for her life, what her dreams and aspirations were. Did she ever consider having them? Historically, we’ve just been forced to have babies and never given the choice to think if that’s what we really want for our lives. Times are changing, but Alejandra, I Love You marks, for me, a time where everything started to change for good.
How do you see the short form today?
M.R.B.: I don’t like it! It’s really frustrating for me. I always have so much to say – I just can’t summarize! It’s so hard for me. I feel like people get bored with short films, that no one watches them. But it’s a good way to start and sometimes some good things come from the exercise, but I’m really dying to shoot a feature film.
What is your opinion on the situation of women in film today?
M.R.B.: My very personal opinion is that’s still TOO WHITE. We definitely need to understand it’s a privileged sector, and even though it’s a good step to have more women in filmmaking, at least in Mexico, women haven’t thought of the social implication and responsibility we have as filmmakers, and they just hide behind the pure fact of being women showing terrible macho movies and denying the crimes their male partners commit. The most important Latino women filmmakers are like that. Just take the case of Ciro Guerra and how her filmmaker women partners defended him and how many white women filmmakers are not stopping to reflect why Indeginous people just don’t have the same opportunities as them, are paid really badly or don’t pay women just because they are younger than them. We’re still too immersed in our own egos and I just don’t feel there’s a strong female filmmaker community. And, unfortunately, so far, the most horrible macho script I ever read was written by a woman who still owes me money. So, nothing will change if we as women never become conscious of the responsibility we carry as filmmakers, at least as decent human beings.
Who is your favorite female filmmaker and what is your favorite film by a female filmmaker?
M.R.B.: I love Lynne Ramsay and all of her work. I also loved Queen and Slim by Melina Matsoukas.
What are your next projects?
M.R.B.: I have just finished editing my Thesis short film that is about a five-year-old who is being abused by her grandfather and she doesn’t have anyone to talk to. It centers around family, family traditions, how kids are ignored just because “they are kids,” silence and how it can destroy lives.
This interview was conducted within the framework of the 2020 16 DAYS 16 FILMS initiative created by the Kering Foundation and Modern Films.