FILM

FRINGE! Queer Film Festival 2018
Silvia Maggi
26 de Diciembre
NETHERLANDS
UK Premiere
SUN NOV 18, 15:00, HACKNEY HOUSE | 70 min | £6

The residents’ different stories show aspects of the social situation and the needs of LGBT elderly people in Spain. Four former drag performers performed as ‘Las Roseras’ during Franco’s dictatorship in Madrid and Barcelona: a time when prosecution and violence was an everyday problem. Their memories and those of the other residents highlight the importance of demanding recognition for social rights, the crucial need for social housing and the different ways that love can be understood.

 

Hey Silvia, thanks for talking to TNC, how is everything going?


All good in Berlin, very much looking forward to the Festival and visit London again!

Your feature film 26 de Diciembre will be screened at Fringe! Queer Film Fest this November, what does it mean for you to be at the festival?


For me and for the team it is a great opportunity to show "26 de Diciembre" at Fringe! It will be our first time out of Spanish speaking circuits and we are excited and full of energy. Also, some of the people of La Fundacion in Madrid will be there for the Q&A and it is gonna be amazing to have the opportunity to meet again cast and crew!

How important is it for LGBTQ+ films like yours to have a platform like Fringe! Queer Film Fest to be screened?


I am a big fan of Queer Film Festivals in general and Fringe! is a platform with a great reputation for quality movies. As a queer-identified person, those platforms represent a place where I can identify with characters of the movies (including rom-com!) and where I can learn and share opinions. LGBTQ+ movie still does not have a big place in the mainstream Film Festivals, unless they follow the mainstream rules (surely with exceptions of some great LGBTQ+ stories that reached the big market). I think there is an underground movement of amazing works that would never be seen or distributed if a platform like Fringe! would not exist. So yes! It is extremely important for LGBTQ+ films like "26 de Diciembre" to have a platform like Fringe!

Do you think these types of film festivals open up LGBTQ+ lives and stories to a wider, perhaps mainstream audience?


I think that people who decide to go to LGBTQ+ Festivals are already part of the scene or allies. I also think though that these types of Festivals help to create visibility among the city that host the Festival which is a very important political act.

Tell me a little bit about 26 de Diciembre, how did this film come about? How did you become acquainted with this LGBTQ community in Madrid?


"26 de Diciembre" is the second chapter of a wider research project that Silvia Radicioni and I bring on since 2013, about care and community building in old age around LGBTQ+ people. We first completed "Welcome Home" in 2014 that was a short documentary about an elderly LGBT community in Berlin: "Lebensort Vielfalt". This short doc travelled a lot between Festivals, Cinemas, conferences and exhibitions for more than 2 years. 

26 de Diciembre

Once, at a conference in Bologna, Italy we met Federico Armenteros, president of la "Fundacion 26 de Diciembre" based in Madrid. We kept in contact and we ended up staying there for almost a month, filming their daily lives and stories, becoming friends with this beautiful community and creating together with the people of La Fundacion this work which finds its strength in the honest and true openness of the characters. The film explores the meaning of community-building, care, memory, and political activism. With our team, we love to describe the work of la "Foundacion 26 de Diciembre" as a moving portrait of a group of people who made utopia a reality.

What was it about their lives and experiences that interested you so much as a filmmaker?


First time I arrived at "La Foundacion" I really felt home. I lived for many years in Madrid in the past in the same neighbourhood where la Fundacion is. I was already thrilled by the enthusiasm of the president, Federico before landing in Madrid. When we arrived I found the scenario I have always hoped for my own old age.


You could really sense the queerness and anarchist attitude of the space and the people there. Their strength and humour beside stories of abuse and police repression, the ability of not taking things too serious and at the same time to give importance to small details. This was what thrilled me there (together with the amazing camera presence of all of them!). We must remember that dictatorship in Spain ended in 1975 so these people lived their queerness under Franco regime. This is also what I found extremely brave and fascinating. As a younger folk, I feel I owe a lot to the fight of those people and it is a pleasure and a duty to give them the opportunity to tell us their story.

After meeting this community what were some of the most important issues about their experiences, past and present, that you took away with you?


After the month of shooting at "La Fundacion" I went back to Berlin and started therapy again (hahaha). I felt so empowered but at the same time so frustrated and scared by the history repeating (see the crescendo of extreme right-wing movements around the world). What these people and this work also taught me is the powerful resilience of humans. Their strength confronting traumas and their ability to laugh and cry with no filters, the beauty and strength of vulnerability: this is what I take away with me and will be forever grateful to these amazing beings for teaching me these lessons. 

26 de Diciembre

What were the biggest challenges you faced making26 de Diciembre?


Biggest challenges were my own fears. Fear of old age, of loneliness, of not having money enough to sustain myself in old age, of not being able and healthy and independent in old age. All things that I thought I already deconstruct, appeared in all their majesty. Again, the strength and smiles and happiness and queerness of the people of La Fundacion helped in exploring those fears.

 

Have you always had a passion for filmmaking?


YES! At a very early age, I discover that making movies was better than creating movies in my head. I guess filmmaking saved me from anxiety (together with Yoga!).

How much has your approach to your film changed since your debut film?


I guess I am more conscious of patriarchal rules in society and trying to fight them as I can. 14 years ago, when I started, I would have not to mind to make an all-dudes crew. Today I prefer to wait and find the right people, creating FLTQ+ (Female Lesbian Trans Queer+) crews in order to give space to our community. Today I am also very aware of the danger of free labour inside a supportive community. Also- I guess- I am more easy with the fact of not fitting in and sharing stories of others that do not fit in. 

"...feel free to give space to the hugeness of your dreams..."

26 de Diciembre

Do you have any advice or tips for any fellow filmmaker?


Wow, this is a question that I was rehearsing a lot as a child when we were playing as being Hollywood stars having "red carpet interviews" with my cousins. My answer was always "Never give up to your dream" holding a fake mic and wearing my mum' s high heels. Today I would answer "feel free to give space to the hugeness of your dreams, to give yourself the permission to change ideas and priorities, to be a filmmaker and also hundreds of other things, to not identify with only one section of your life and to respect your limits and boundaries and values and the ones of others, to be careful in portraying people and stories because Filmmaking is a strong political act." - still wearing high heels.

And finally, what do you hope audiences will take away from 26 de Diciembre?


I hope some people can find peace in their fears of ageing and being precarious in terms of recurses and money like it happened to me when I met the people from la Fundacion and I can' t wait for them to meet Federico and Ino from La Foundation in the Q&A session. Also, I hope the audience could reflect upon the message that ageing together in a non-normative way it is possible and we are not alone.