Despite all the problems in the world, 2020 has seen a remarkable crop of such excellent queer debut feature films from first time directors/writers. Forgotten Roads from Chilean filmmaker Nicol Ruiz Benavides is right up there amongst them.
Kudos for both his script and his visual interpretation but especially for the sublimely nuanced performance from his lead actress Rosa Ramírez Ríos in her very first movie. The camera (and we) love her.
She plays 70 year old Claudina who we first meet when she learns that her husband has died. It will mean leaving her tied remote farmhouse which was part of his job. No mean feat for a women who has been so dependent on her husband that she cannot even drive their own car.
So having no other options, she moves in with her only daughter who she is not really close too, and her young grandson who she dotes upon. The small conservative town they live in is currently obsessed with sightings of UFO’s, and we soon discover that the people there actually abhor anything out of the ordinary they do not understand.
Claudina seems slightly dazed by life now, but still shows no sign of grieving for her late husband. When she befriends her new more worldly neighbor Elsa it is a relief for Claudina to share the fact her marriage at a very early age had made her feel trapped and embittered.
Elsa, with a husband who is away travelling for most of the year, is a free spirit who cares little for how she is perceived in the neighborhood, and who quickly grows very attached to Claudina. She has confided that she sings in a hidden bar called “Porvenir“(The Future on the other side of town. When Claudina braves it out on her own to this secret gay bar, her eyes are suddenly open to a whole new world of possibilities that she have never even dreamed off.
Her relationship with Elsa becomes physical as each of them declare their love for each but the reappearance of her husband …… and the UFO’s …….gives her a sharp reality check.
But for Claudina who this is a another bump in the road after being empowered by Elsa, she now has a sense of personal freedom and there can be no turning back. And she can drive now too!
Claudina’s journey of self-discovery is a sheer joy to watch, and will no doubt be a real inspiration to others.
Forgotten Roads is streaming from https://www.frameline.org/festival