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Naomi Campbel

Directed by Camila José Donoso and Nicolás Videla.
With Paula Dinamarca, Ingrid Mancilla, Josefina Ramírez.
Chile, 2013, DCP, color, 83 min.
Spanish with English subtitles.
DCP source: Filmmaker

Camila José Donoso and Nicolás Videla’s portrait of Santiago’s trans community is a transformative, meditative opus. Yermén, a trans woman who wants gender affirmation surgery, explores the outskirts of Santiago as she tries to find the right medical venue. Her search eventually takes her to the offices of an exploitative reality show, where she meets an Afro-Chilean trans woman who declares she wants to look like Naomi Campbell after her surgery. The film centers around these women’s fantasies, dreams and joys, countering the high-octane pace of reality television to propose a different kind of realism. Alternating between the straightforward telling of Yermén’s narrative and documentary-style sections during which she surveys the streets around her with a handheld camera, the film’s texture is brilliantly recursive. And within this urban landscape, tradition and modernity are equally present; Yermén works at a call center for tarot card readers, and an ongoing topic of discussion is the dominance of US modeling and beauty standards. Naomi Campbel’s melancholy is as topographical as it is social, and its focus on interior spaces, and those who are left behind by commercialized fantasies of womanhood, ultimately illuminates this film’s remarkable insight and integrity. – Alejandro Eduarte

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Gene Hackman crouched beside a toilet with audio equipment

From the HFA Collection...