“Miguelina” film by Reyther Ortega


A film by Language Department Faculty Reyther Ortega

Venezuela, 2003, 14 min. 35 mm

Paraguaná Peninsula, Venezuela

“When you grow up in Latin America, magical realism is part of your daily life. You read it in school, of course, but a ghost that comes back, a woman so beautiful who goes to heaven and a grandma so small she fits in a shoebox are also stories we tell everyday and are part of our daily life. Cuban writer Alejo Carpentier said this is the effect of the mix of mythologies in the territory (Pre-Hispanic, Christian and African) and that the concept of a marvelous reality, often sought by Europeans, is inherent to Latin America.

I wrote this story in Caracas, a big city totally different from what you see here. I knew somewhere in Venezuela I would find the landscape and the faces I envisioned. Driving about six hours, we got to Paraguaná, a desert peninsula that turned out to be the perfect location. Working with the people from the town was wonderful; all the actors were from the town and none were professional actors. It looks like a big production, but it was done with more passion than money. Yes, we went house by house asking people to lend us any baskets –and goats– they may have.

I edited miles away, in New York City, with one of my classmates from NYU. My biggest learning experience with this film was how things you write that seem to work quite well on paper or as “raw” material, well, they don’t quite work once you put them together. So we re-wrote the ending in the editing room.

I came back to Paraguaná two years later, with the film completed. I had screened it in 33 film festivals around the world and won awards in Iran, New York, Cleveland and Caracas. The townspeople loved it, and we got to share memories and stories from the long hours of filming. That was a truly magical day, but luckily for me, it was real.” ~ Reyther Ortega

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