In an ongoing series, Variety profiles 10 emerging Mexican women filmmakers.
A year has been a long time for Mexican actress-dramatist-director Lila Avilés. Last October, she was preparing to screen her first feature, “The Chambermaid” (La Camarista) in rough-cut at Los Cabos.“The Chambermaid” won at Los Cabos, attracted co-producers in Bad Boy Billy Production and LA Panda, swept Ventana Sur, again as a work in progress, and soon after snagged a sales agent, Paris-based Alpha Violet. In September, it world premiered at Toronto Festival, then segued to San Sebastian’s prestigous New Directors showcase, sparking reviews which announced Avilés as a talent to track.
A quiet melodrama, “La Camarista” follows the daily grind of a chambermaid, Eve (Gabriela Cartol) 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 is inspired by a chamber play, “La Camarera,” which Avilés wrote and directed, inspired in turn 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 has said.
But while “Hotel” centered of an unsettlingly voyeuristic act of rifling through hotel clients’ belongings, “La Camerista” grew from Aviles’ 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 lies at the heart of “La camarista,” as Aviles’ gradually reveals Eve’s drama, desires, doubts and dreams, while detailing her work, and challenges – she travels two hours to work, lives in a house without running water. Eve’s drama is all the more compelling because, save for one outburst, she doesn’t make a drama off it. Heroes are tightlipped. heroines too.
Avilés’s latest plays as a producer and actress, “Nothing” and “Everything” by Janne Teller, opened in January 2018 at the UNAM theater in Mexico City. She is now writing her second feature, which will have a large element of autobiography.