SEPTEMBER 2022 EDITION
Mary Frances Attías, thank you very much for speaking to us today. Let’s dig right in if we can. How did you decide to grapple with this big issue of gender violence and child abduction in parental violence cases in Central/Latin America, and beyond?
In 2007, the local newspaper depicted a real case of violence that shocked me to my core. Since then, as a screenwriter and aspiring producer, I had the wish to work through the movie industry to denunciate and communicate the different aspects that involve violence.
After the pandemic, with the increase in violence due to domestic confinement, the need to do this became even more pressing. So, with the help of a friend, also a producer and scriptwriter, we gathered up a team of young talents that made “A Leap into the Void” a reality. Among these young talents, the two directors Adrian Santana and Adrian Díaz worked with us to adjust what we wanted to say for the screenplay.
Having male directors, you took on a very daunting task, and that is to be celebrated.
Do you think your film can have added impact because they were not women addressing women?
As an executive producer and screenwriter, I had to conduct several sessions of conversations to explain my views of how the story should be told and why. It took me some effort and time to explain the feminine point of view, and help the male members of the team see the reality of this society that condones men’s actions even when they are “wrong”.
They had to learn from the facts and understood the need of communicating the message. Several corrections to the original script were made in order to achieve this daunting task.
You said, “As directors we felt the pressure to tell the story in a way that could have a positive impact, we understood that reducing graphic violence to a minimum and placing more emphasis on the consequences and traumas left by it was the correct way, using modern cinematographic language and a fluid rhythm to make this topic more digestible, which many find uncomfortable.” Do you believe that showcasing gender violence, even “reducing graphic violence to a minimum” is really a means to an end?
We agreed with the directors beforehand not to be explicit as we wanted this piece to be an educational one that could be projected at universities, schools and cultural spaces to create discussion and awareness about violence and help create real solutions as a society.
A Leap Into The Void is a look at a real case with the intention of doing justice to those real victims, it is knowing that even in the worst endings there can be a second chance, but more importantly, bad endings can be avoided.” In the film, Tania passes on her learnings to a counseling group, but her life is broken forever. Do you have any examples of what can be done to give the victims a second chance?
I am not an expert in the matter, but I understand individual and group therapy works well in these cases. Commitment to this process from the victim is important as well, in order to work through the stages of grief. Stability is important, creating a sense of safety through maybe a job or something that establishes routine is important. It is a profound scar, and these women need all the support they can get in order to continue with life.
Would you say that living in a practicing Catholic country and being a Catholic changes the rationale?
I believe it does. Personally, as a catholic woman, I do not agree with some submissive practices that the church has sustained to avoid divorces. Many of these erroneous beliefs have drawn women to fall in the hands of violent men. Religion in general should revise some of these traits.
You are touching on the vicious circle of alcoholism and violence in men and a somewhat patriarchal domineering attitude toward women, refusing them access to higher education and thus to empowerment. How important is this issue in the Dominican Republic and Hispanic cultures in general in the 21st century?
This is very important, in fact statistics now show that women are empowered and producing and progressing professionally more and more. Many of the Dominican homes are mono-parental homes sustained by women. We need to invest in education and empowering of women, and mental health. These aspects are some of the aspects we address as “TimeArt Foundation”. Alcohol is a detonator and a symptom to violence and should be considered in all societies.
Tania, the main protagonist resorts to working in a lounge bar that is a haunt for the type of men that she’s trying to get away from in the first place. Is this a common situation?
Does this not keep women trapped in a subservient role, while it looks like by having a job they have become independent? The main protagonist says, “I realized that I believed him (the husband) because I had no self-esteem.” In your opinion, what can be done to really help empowering women?
Unfortunately, women with no means or education often succumb and end up working in less desirable workplaces. But violence is everywhere. Some institutions, religious and government related, try to help these women. As a society we need to work on growing women's self-esteem. That is by not allowing “macho” or patriarchal behaviors that diminish the value of women, reducing them to a mere transaction or publicity icon to sell goods. Women are not objects, not a piece of property, but human beings with rights.
Short statement describing your vision of the post-covid cinema, do you think
there will be notable changes?
“Confinement was a great opportunity for showing films and series. Was one of the
activities that could be done at home. I think there are many stories to be told as a
product of the Covid experience. People have changed, and their values too.
I think we have learned new ways of doing things. This will affect the industry. Films must reflect these changes”. Mary Frances Attías
MARY FRANCES ATTÍAS
Curiosity, awe of nature and the fragility of the human condition are elements that permeate my artistic work. An adventurous and restless personality leads me to want to discover stories in everything I see.
As a photographer, screenwriter, and producer my work generally maintains the presence of the everyday and current, from a very ambiguous perspective, as a trigger to address universal issues related to identity, memory, time, love, and death.
I try to communicate my personal vision of the world, thus creating a kind of shared diary. I am passionate about street photography, portraiture, literature, cinema, and painting as a means of interpreting the world around us and dealing with situations that concern me.
As filmmaker “A Leap to the Void” is my Opera Prima.
But many stories await to be unfolded from now on.
SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS
ITW: Isabelle Rouault-Röhlich