Melissa Elizondo Moreno

Melissa Elizondo Moreno graduated from the National School of Cinematographic Arts of the UNAM. As a director, her work is framed within the themes of resilience, childhood and the gender perspective. Her debut feature “The Sower” was awarded the Warrior of the Documentary Press, the Award for a Documentary Made by a Woman and the Audience Award for Documentary Feature Film at the Morelia International Film Festival, in addition to having been awarded internationally at film festivals in France, Chile and Bolivia. Her short films “Túmin. Solidarity Economy” and “The Threads that Weave Us” have been screened at various film festivals and international exhibitions. At the 17th Morelia International Film Festival, she presented her most recent documentary short film, “To Stir the Heart.”

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 Melissa Elizondo Moreno about her short film, “The Road is a Red Thread,” 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?

Melissa Elizondo Moreno: From a young age, I decided that I wanted to dedicate my life to making films. This was difficult since I did not have the best economic condition and my father believed that this industry would not reward me financially, so I first studied Communication Sciences instead. My mother could not support me financially, but she always supported that I dedicate myself to whatever I wanted, so I applied to CUEC and at the second attempt, I was accepted. I have always wanted to make documentaries, but I think I was leaning towards the production or screenwriting side because I saw directing as somehow less attainable, and I think that unconsciously I saw directing as a man’s role. Most of the cinematic references that I had were male directors. At that time, there was almost no presence of women in that regard. But little by little, I began to lean towards directing and I think it was because the women I most admired were classmates and their work as directors fascinated me. Their work resonated with me as well as many of my peers. I think this marked me and proved that the presence of women in the medium inspires, motivates, and influences new generations in the film industry to make their stories and their voices heard.

Can you talk about your short film The Road is a Red Thread?

M.E.M.: The Road is a Red Thread narrates my exploration of the indifference and the normalization of violence against women, femicide that kills everyone: families, friends, strangers … Any murder, in addition to pain, generates doubts and questions without answers. But femicide shows that women are more vulnerable and that in Mexico, a woman can be murdered with no legal consequence. It shows us the lack of interest of the authorities and their collusion with femicides. The lack of sensitivity of society to these deaths reaffirms this. Women in our country do not live, we survive. Unfortunately, this situation is seriously normalized, we are not alarmed by the anguish with which women live everyday and although men may also feel threatened by the violence that plagues the country, the high numbers of femicides are the product of machismo with which we live. It reflects that women are totally unprotected and more vulnerable, as they are constantly exposed to violence and sexual harassment. Like millions of women in the State of Mexico, day by day, I have lived with uncertainty and the possibility of being raped or murdered, or disappearing on the way to my destination. I have taken public transportation for years and have traveled on the routes where thousands of women have disappeared and have been murdered. The short film The Road is a Red Thread is a visual poetry essay that immerses us in an anguishing open wound in Mexico and what it means for every woman to live in a country where being a woman is a risk of death.

How do you see the short form today?

M.E.M.: I believe that the mass media, including Cinema, have built models of women in submissive roles or as objects. The media continue to reaffirm discourses that perpetuate structural gender inequality, and Cinema made by women offers us a range of perspectives that help us think of ourselves as a woman. I think that among ourselves, filmmakers have brought new messages to the screen through various cinematographic genres that allow transformations in the representation of women on the screen, a Cinema where the female characters are protagonists. Now, the presence of women of all ages, origins, and social classes has increased on the screens, but we still have a long way to go. I think these are moments of much reflection in filmmaking to transform that patriarchal ideology. I believe that leadership in Cinema, until recently, was reserved mainly for male characters and this obviously perpetuated the hegemonic discourse of culture that has put men in a position of power while placing women in an inferior position. That narrative has continually triumphed and has had men in privileged positions. So, in the absence of real and positive role models for women, there is a need to create references. Now, we see more works made by women, where the female character embarks on a path to seek who she is outside of patriarchal dictates. The representation of women in Cinema has changed thanks to the increase in the presence of women creating their own films.

What is your opinion on the situation of women in film today?

M.E.M.: There is a gender gap, and the film industry is no exception. The industry is a very misogynistic environment; most of the key positions are represented by men or women who unfortunately have had to hide their beliefs to remain in the industry. I believe that as women we share a deep oppression and we do not have sufficient protection against sexual and labor abuse of patriarchal power. Power relations are increasingly visible thanks to various women’s movements within the industry that have fought to stop normalizing abuse. It is difficult to assess what women do because it is outside the hegemonic regulations. Fortunately, that is changing and there is a strong and organized movement for women in the film industry.

Who is your favorite female filmmaker and what is your favorite film by a female filmmaker?

M.E.M.: In Mexican Cinema, I can say with great joy that the list is long and I am sure I will miss the names of many colleagues whose work I admire and some of them are: Lucía Gaja, María Sojob, Astrid Rondero, Tania Hernández, Sandra Luz López, Alicia Segovia, Joyce García and Olivia Luengas. In foreign Cinema, it is Lucrecia Martel, Andrea Arnold, Julia Solomonoff, Valérie Donzelli, Léa Mysius, Agnès Varda, Naomi Kawase, Carla Simón, Lynne Ramsay, Dominga Sotomayor…

What are your next projects?

M.E.M.: The Road is a Red Thread began as a short film. However, a group of colleagues and I are working to develop it into a feature documentary. We are currently seeking support from organizations that work on the eradication of violence against women. The film will share an exploration of indifference and the normalization of violence against women, in the search for mothers, sisters, and daughters who, through their daily journeys through the suburbs of the urban periphery, expose us to the uncertainty before the ritual of measures of security that they carry out to try to stay alive and what it means for each of them to live in a country where being a woman is a risk of death. We seek to build an essay of visual poetry that immerses us in the anguishing open wound in our country, where during a full day the emotional feelings of six women in different stages of their lives are interwoven. Six women who travel to insecure spaces in the areas with the highest levels of femicide in the State of Mexico. Their strategies built to transcend the horror and to defend themselves from femicidal barbarism, share their process of a resistant struggle where love and dignity are the means to what they seek to preserve: their own lives and those of the generations to come.





This interview was conducted within the framework of the 2020 16 DAYS 16 FILMS initiative created by the Kering Foundation and Modern Films. 

Tara Karajica

Tara Karajica is a Belgrade-based film critic and journalist. Her writings have appeared in "Indiewire," "Screen International," "Variety," "Little White Lies" and "Film New Europe," among many other media outlets, including the European Film Academy’s online magazine, "Close-up" and Eurimages. She is a member of the European Film Academy, the Online Film Critics Society and the Alliance of Women Film Journalists as well as the recipient of the 2014 Best Critic Award at the Altcine Action! Film Festival. In September 2016, she founded "Yellow Bread," a magazine dedicated entirely to short films, ranked among the 25 Top Short Film Blogs and Websites on the Planet in 2017. In February 2018, she launched "Fade to Her," a magazine about successful women working in Film and TV and in 2019, she was a member of the Jury of the European Shooting Stars (European Film Promotion). She is currently a programmer for live action shorts at PÖFF Shorts, Head of the Short Film Program and Live Action Shorts programmer at SEEFest and Narrative Features Programmer at the Durban International Film Festival. Tara is a regular at film festivals as a film critic, moderator and/or jury member.

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