MEXICO CITY — “La Camarista,” the feature debut of director-actress-dramatist Lila Avilés, hits Los Cabos’ Work in Progress as one of its already buzzed-up titles, a fiction film which follows the daily grind of a chambermaid at Mexico City’s chic Hotel Presidente Internacional as it charts the search for identity of a person who seems invisible to some clients, is already a mother, but not yet her own person.
It has been long in the coming. Lacking a formal film school education, Avilés shot shorts “as exercises.” “The Fertility of the Earth,” a 16-minute doc about eco-agriculture in Mexico’s inspiringly lush, bio-diverse Valle la Paz – is maybe her most achieved. Aviles also wrote and directed a chamber play, “La Camarera,” inspired by the world of Sophie Calle’s celebrated 1980’s “Hotel.”
“The three have traits in common: Curiosity, the sense of belonging to a particular place or things; a search for identity,” Avilés says.
But while “Hotel” centered of an unsettlingly voyeuristic act of rifling through hotel clients’ belongings, “La Camerista” grew from befriending chambermaids, following them on their daily work. “By understanding their humanity, I discovered my own point of view as an artist,” Avilés says.
And it’s that humanity which, by all accounts, lies at the heart of “La camarista.”