Raul Niño Zambrano's Programmer Pick: The First Woman

    • Festival
    • December 1, 2020
    • By Maricke Nieuwdorp & Raul Niño Zambrano

    Throughout the festival, the IDFA programmers present their favorite hidden gems from the festival program. Today: Raul Niño Zambrano, the senior programmer behind the IDFA Competition for First Appearance, the IDFA Competition for Student Documentary, and the Queer Day selection—picks The First Woman.

    This feature debut from Spain follows Eva, a woman who spent years in psychiatric clinics because of addiction and mental problems. Now the time has come for her to return to "normal" society. She moves to an assisted living project and tries to collect the fragments of her past. My impression is that Miguel Eek has been following her for several years. In the beginning she still lives internally and he records her process to independence, her so-called "new normal". What struck me most in this portrait is the empathy, the genuine warmth that the filmmaker has for his protagonist. Especially in times of corona, such an emphatic film is very nice to watch. "The new normal" is a theme of today’s times. It is also a film about second chances. Eva tries to reconnect with the son she did not see for years.

    I kept thinking about the work of Pedro Almodóvar, only in the form of a documentary. Just like Almodóvar, Eek opts for many close-ups and a very consistent framing. The emotions run in all directions, from anxiety to hysterical happiness; also such an "Almodóvar" theme. And finally, protagonist Eva—and with it the film itself—has a lot of humor. Her personality is very infectious. The maker did not interview her, but it is also not a typical fly-on-the-wall film. Eva clearly is playing with the fact that a camera is pointed at her. Sometimes Eva's life is grand and compelling, such as when she said goodbye to the clinic, but Eek has also managed to capture the everyday scenes from a human life.

    The perspective lies mainly with Eva, but sometimes it shifts to others for a while: a practitioner, for example, or her mother. Remarkably, there are also scenes that seem almost too good to be true. So much so that you feel like it's staged. It doesn't really matter at all that it feels almost like a hybrid film. We think less and less in strict genre boundaries. The main thing is that it is cinema.

    Click here for more information about The First Woman and to get tickets.

    The First Woman

    • Miguel Eek
    • 2020
    • 77 min

      After six years in a psychiatric institution, Eva will soon move on to assisted living, the next step to a “normal” life. And then she has another dream: to reunite with the son she hasn’t been in contact with for ten years.

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