Elijah Leonard Salazar (Mexico) has watched Stand by Me film by Tamara Dondurey in the Bright Future section of the Rotterdam IFF.
In Mexico, we grew up under a dangerous socio-cultural upbringing that condemns women who do not marry, do not have children, do not depend on a man and privilege their individuality. This stigma has increased today with the independence and leadership exercised by many women over their own lives.
Why does a woman choose not to love someone else? What is the story of these women who make the decision to lead an autonomy foreign to social norms? Russian documentary filmmaker Tamara Dondurey debuts in her first fiction feature, delving into the world of today’s women to guide us with a story about it.
Kira (Ekaterina Ermishina) is a 30-year-old architect focused on her professional growth with an obsession to modernize Moscow with her projects. Worried about her future, she is characterized by being a person with strong decisions: either she is white or she is black, but not grey. In her intimacy, she has a romantic relationship with a boy who loves dogs, animals that bother her in her space. However, she doesn’t feel anything for him, or anyone, because she is unable to love. Or so she thinks.
Her life is turned upside down when she finds out she is pregnant. This news leads her partner to offer to live together, which becomes an alarming proposition for her. “Stability is a privilege”, she tells him to reject him and point out that there is no future by his side. She also tells that that she is going to have an abortion. Then, a death occurs, which means a great loss for Kira.
This loss is a cathartic experience that leads her to discover that she is able to love but does not know how. Here, Dondurey moves away from the romantic cliché to approach Kira’s process in a confrontation with her world, in particular with the root of her conflicts, her mother.
The director sends a necessary message: if you need answers to feel better, seek them. And it doesn’t matter if it means questioning the family, the main treasure-trove with which we are born. With or without intention, the filmmaker pays for something that human beings despise in their training insofar as they are not inculcated: sentimental freedom (we own our feelings). To what extent do parents have the right to intervene to mold or destroy the sensitivity of their children? This is a question that arises with Kira’s crisis.
In her inner struggle to start from scratch, perhaps very scared of having to rebuild herself with a heart that has a lot to feel and feel, Kira acts out of inertia in the face of an unthinkable situation before suffering the loss that has altered her plans. What does she do? She shares her food with a dog that will keep her company. This gesture, so common and daily for many people, is new for her. She tells us that she made the strong decision to rebuild herself in the freedom to choose a family, to build one.
Ekaterina Ermishina’s performance is very relevant. Manage a tone of confinement, introspective, quite repressive. Kira’s character demands it, so she absorbs her reality to awaken in the viewer this desire to invite them to explode.