God is in the details


By Heider Tunarrosa|Tribeca Film Festival

Bad Hair by Mariana Rondón is an intimate film about a young boy who is discovering his sexuality while he struggles to be accepted by his own mother.

The movie takes place in Venezuela, and it’s not a pretty sight. Rondón takes us to poor areas where it’s normal to have a TV and a couch in the middle of the street. Streets where it’s normal to make rape jokes, and where machismo and violence are part of the everyday culture. One thing that isn’t normal, common or accepted is being gay, and that’s the heart of the movie.

Junior (Samuel Lange Zambrano) is a little kid who is being raised by a single mother, a mother who redefines the meaning of the word selfish. Marta (Samantha Castillo) works as a cleaner who wants her old job back. She used to be a security guard, and she was fired for reasons that are never actually revealed. The only thing we know for certain about her is that she has a temper. She’s frustrated. She feels lonely, and she clearly wants a man in her life, and that’s why she can’t cope with the fact that her first son is gay.

Junior’s grandmother, Carmen (Nelly Ramos), is the only person who accepts Junior as he is. She is willing to raise him because it’s obvious to her that Junior is hated by his own mother. Carmen and Junior share a beautiful scene where they dance together, that won’t fail to melt the audience’s heart.

The cinematography is flawless, and the performances are truthful; though Rondón had a script she never showed it to the cast, preferring to work with them through improvisation. The story is told in such a touching way that you connect with the characters on a visceral level. The director also makes a great job in criticizing the political view of Latin America. It’s a criticism of machismo, sexism, racism and homophobia, and the best element of Bad Hair is that the director doesn’t come across as pretentious in her criticism.

Influences of Italian neorealism movement are present throughout the entire film. The idea was to tell a story while showing the reality and the struggle of a country. Bad Hair is a great example of pointing out the flaws of a misogynistic society while telling a story about love and acceptance. It’s a must. Bad Hair went on to win the Golden Shell award at the 61st San Sebastian Film Festival.

About the director: Mariana Rondón (Barquisimeto, Venezuela, 1966) Director, screenwriter, and visual artist. Her first feature, At Midnight and a Half (2000) received five Opera Prima Awards. Her last feature, Postcards from Leningrad (2007), received 23 international awards.