With its Spanish title, Italian directors and Moroccan actors, Corazones de Mujer sounds exotic enough. The plot is simple, one of the oldest in the book: Zina confides in her tailor Shakira that her wedding is compromised because she is not a virgin. Her husband will repudiate her. Shakira understands her quandary only too well, being a gay transvestite himself. And besides, he cannot bear seeing a woman cry. Fortunately, he knows a doctor who can help, in Casablanca. Having convinced the bride’s family they simply cannot settle for the mediocre cloth available in Rome, Zina and Shakira drive away from Torino on board Shakira’s flamboyant red Alpha Romeo, out to seek the most sumptuous Moroccan fabrics.
The road trip is full of surprises, intimate conversations, happy and awkward moments. Crossing the Mediterranean, Shakira reluctantly lets go of his blond wig and shiny jewelry, leaving his feminine identity back on the European continent. In Morocco he is a boy, determined to meet up with another boy he has been estranged from for too long: his young son who believes his father to be dead.
This Mediterranean road movie strikes a realistic chord thanks to non-professional actors and a matter-of-fact direction that convey a documentary sensibility to a story inspired by true events, made lyrical by majestic shots of the desert landscapes and a purring, mellow pace.
Undoubtedly, if Corazones de Mujer is having a difficult time finding a distributor, it is not because it requires a multilingual translator, but more likely because of the controversial issues it raises, whether in Europe or North Africa. Arranged marriages, required virginity, transvestism, homosexuality and parenting – eyebrows are bound to arch up. The film’s hybrid language and nationality mirror the blurry gender boundaries embodied by Shakira of course, but also by Zina, trapped as she is in the conventions of her sex. Corazones de Mujer attempts at erasing borders with sheer human determination, emanating from the characters but also quite tangibly, from the directors.
The film was very well received at the Berlin International Film Festival and did the opening of the Paris Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, but has yet to find a larger audience. Pedro and Augustin Almodovar, who read the script in pre-production (hence the Spanish title), are among its most fervent supporters, even though they declined taking an active part in its production. Whatever its immediate impact, Corazones de Mujer is bound to be recognized for its message of tolerance and open-mindedness at a time when Italy is still granting very few rights to the LTGB community, far behind its neighbor Spain, and when Morocco and many other countries in the world keep turning a blind eye to everyday homophobia and its repeated crimes.
Corazones de Mujer by Davide Sordella and Pablo Benedetti a.k.a. Kiff Koosof, starring Aziz Ahmeri (Shakira), Ghizlane Waldi (Zina)
Corazones de Mujer will open the Mediterranean short film festival Corto Del MED held in Avignon, France, from June 11 to 14. It was distributed in Italian theatres by
Movimento film and is made available on video by Medusa. International distribution (Switzerland, Germany, France) is covered by Adriana Chiesa Enterprises.///Article N° : 8529