Female Film Legends at Sundance Film Festival - Rita Moreno and Patty Jenkins
Written by: Nikoleta Morales
Day two of the Sundance Film Festival came with a bang. Women legends Rita Moreno and Patty Jenkins illuminated the festival. Rita Moreno spoke about her new documentary directed by Mariam Perez Riera,“Rita Moreno: Just a Girl Who Decided to Go For It.” At the same time, Patty Jankins spoke at the Talks and Events portion of the festival. She talked about her path as a director of “Monsters'' to then the “Wonder Woman” franchise. She discussed her struggles as a director, her work and she inspired members of the audience, which was filled with female powerhouses who are changing the game for female directors. She will be the first female director to direct an upcoming “Star Wars'' movie and other major budget films. As for working with actors, she said: “I don’t like working with actors who have egos. There is no need for that on set,” she adds.
Rita Moreno’s documentary shows her major achievements as an actress, an entertainer and an activist. The film also shows vulnerable and raw moments from her life, such as leaving Puerto Rico as a little girl with her mother to her struggles as a Latina immigrant, her Hollywood career and her personal life. It is a documentary full of love, warmth and lessons, such as if you put your heart and mind to something you love, you will succeed. Rita Moreno broke stereotypes, pathed the way for other Latin entertainers and left an unforgettable mark on the world.
“The first time I interviewed Rita, I had prepared a series of questions about the biggest moments of her career. As soon as she started speaking, I immediately saw myself reflected in her answers. It was as though I was speaking to a therapist who understood exactly what I had been through. I related to all she was saying: her stories about discrimination, the insecurities she felt because of the way others perceived her, the complicated love relationships, and the constant need to work three times harder to prove to others that she is worthy. It was at that moment when I realized that this movie was not just a biographical documentary of Rita’s life, but a story about all the women who feel alone as they struggle to assert themselves in a patriarchal society rooted in white supremacy,” said Riera in her director’s statement.
“While listening to her stories I constantly questioned the American Dream. To what extent are we willing to pay the price? Fifty years ago, Rita lived through hardships and experiences that unfortunately many women continue to endure, including myself. So Idecided to shift the documentary's focus to the courage, transformations, and highsandlows of a brave immigrant woman trying to overcome discrimination, hatred, andhumiliation. A woman who when speaking about herself, speaks to and for a lot of us,” add the director.
“I made a promise to this day that I will be as truthful as I could possibly be. That was the intent and sometimes it was very difficult to be as upfront as I had to be. But I had to be as candid as I could be,” said Moreno in regards to being open about her life in her documentary. ‘I learned very early that you sank or you swam with language. That you can make your words known with words.”
Another interesting film that was shown at Sundance that day was “Strawberry Mansion.” The film was directed by Kentucker Audley and Albert Birney. This dreamy-like feature about love and dreams puts the viewer in a virtual reality where anything is possible. In the not-too-distant future, an all-seeing surveillance state conducts “dream audits” to collect taxes on the unconscious lives of the populace. Mild-mannered government agent James Preble (Kentucker Audley) travels to a remote farmhouse to audit the dreams of Arabella “Bella” Isadora (Penny Fuller), an eccentric, aging artist. As he enters the VHS archive, which contains a lifetime of dreams, he stumbles upon a secret that offers him a chance at love. The experience of the film was topped with a virtually created Strawberry Mansion room, where participants had the chance to explore the different dreams and rooms while chatting with other participants as avatars.
This year’s festival also features many virtual reality films that can be experienced through a VR headset in the New Frontier section. From animated shorts to shorts about diversity and inclusion, this part of the festival is one beyond imagination. Participants can also gather in a virtual room with avatars where they can chat with one another and even hug. This part was created since the festival couldn’t be in person this year. In addition, there are selected cities that are participating in in-person screenings of the films through the Satellite Screening portion of the festival.
For more information on the festival, visit: Sundance.org.