Raindance Film Festival 2018 ~ Princesita: Raw, heartbreaking story told by amazingly strong women

More than 80 feature films, 99 short films, 22 music videos and 33 VR exhibits of which 31 are world premieres, 28 are international premieres, 21 are European premieres and 81 are UK Premieres. Raindance 2018 has again delivered an oustanding line-up with wonderful, surprising, dazzling and fascinating films. A number with the same element: Chile, the guest country this year. Making the film choices is always a hard and nerve-wrecking task for Raindance founder Elliot Grove and his team, and especially when it comes to the opening and closing movies. This year’s, the newest work from Chilleanian director Marialy Rivas (Young and Wild, Boys on Film 5: Candy Boy), Princesita, not only opened the festival but at the same time also introduced the new F-rating for the festival in the most perfect and captivating way.

Which rating? The F-rating. It was first initiated by Bath Film Festival (which has now become FilmBath) and wants to pay attention and homage to the female director, the screenwriter or the incredible amazing female lead(s) of the movie. In the case of Princesita, the film can be classified as a triple F-rating as it has a marvelous director (Marialy Rivas), screenwriters (Camila Gutiérre, Manuela Infante and Marialy Rivas) and lead actress (Sara Caballero).

This moving and gripping film tells the story of twelve-year-old Tamara (Caballero), who’s being raised in a cult community in the southern Chile. As the golden child of her cult leader Miguel, she is forced to become his wife and the mother of his child. Because of her “privileged” status, he allows her to go to school outside the community. After living in isolation for so long, Tamara gets to know what life outside the cult is. That knowledge in combination with the start of her puberty and self-exploration, she realises that the role as the Chosen One is more a curse than a blessing and with only one purpose: conceiving Miguel his child. Will Tamara be able to finally break those chains or will she sadly have to undergo her “faith” of her community?

Right before the screening, director Marialy Rivas took the stage and mentioned that she was hoping that people would be fascinated by the film and that it would stick with them afterwards. She also said that people aren’t going to be able to “enjoy” the movie because of its dark elements. Ok, she might have had a point. Just based on the storyline of a girl being forced to have sexual intercourse with an older man, there’s absolutely nothing to enjoy. You have to have an incredibly strong stomach to process a topic like that.

However, when you look at this movie from an artistic perspective, it’s a pleasure. Right from the start, the mysterious and enigmatic vibe is introduced by an incredibly intriguing opening sequence where happy and joyful colours are mixed with the pitch-dark black. Does this represent the purity and innocence from Tamara that’s being touched by the dark and black soul of Miguel? Might be. The contrast between dark and colour will be something that will continue throughout the entire movie, which gives the perfect vibe.

Another element that makes Princesita a very intriguing film, is the voice over that’s used. Carefully whispering how she feels inside, Tamara shows a reflection of her immensely disturbing, painful and sinister inner life. Combine this with the concerning and upsetting images you see, and you will experience the pain, horror and hard time she’s going through to the core of your own body. A body that is your own and yours only. No man has ownership over a woman’s body.

In a movie like this where the relationship, whether twisted or not, between a man and a girl are the central aspect, the chemistry between the actors is even more important. With the leading lady Sara Caballero (Papito), of whom Princesita is only her second feature film, a new star has arrived. Her performance is incredibly intriguing, emotional and compelling. She transfers the confusion, the sadness, suffering (both physically and mentally) and anger all the way from the screen onto the audience. We instantly fear for her life, body and purity from the moment we see Marcelo Alonso (Neruda, The Club) as Miguel. Raw, ruthless and fierce with a gigantic “animal-like” lust for sex.

The Raindance Film Festival started its 26th edition with this incredibly powerful film. It’s one from a few women as a voice from all the women in the world who are being repressed, abused and harmed in any way. The “your body should be for you and for you only” is being carried over the screen by this highly touching but disturbing story, poignant acting performances and very fitting cinematography.

Liselotte Vanophem, Film and Celebrity Reporter – Just Celebrity Magazine

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