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10 Directors to Watch: Alejandra Márquez Abella Offers Window Into Class and Gender With ‘The Good Girls’

Blending style with social commentary, Mexican director examines the meltdown of an affluent housewife whose bank account suddenly runs dry.

Alejandra Marquez Abella 10 Directors to
Courtesy of Alejandra Marquez Abella

Raised in Mexico City by historian parents, writer-director Alejandra Márquez Abella studied filmmaking at the Centre d’Estudis Cinematographics de Catalunya in Barcelona, Spain.

Inspired by international art film directors and the French New Wave in particular — “They felt like a drug exploding in my brain,” she says — the emerging Mexican auteur debuted her first feature, “Semana Santa,” at the Toronto film festival in 2015. In September, she was back at TIFF with “The Good Girls,” which premiered in the prestigious Platform competition, before going on to win the audience award in Macao.

Both features are keenly observed, naturalistic and sometimes humorous dramas about flawed characters that evoke deep empathy from viewers. “They are very different, but I’d say that they have complicated characters in common,” she says. “I’ve portrayed unlikable people like a childish, irresponsible mother or a self-centered snob in distress and tried to understand their drive.”

Márquez Abella is writing — in English — another project inspired by her paternal grandmother called “La Triste” that takes place between Mexico and Chicago. “I’m very open to working in different places,” she says. “I think it’s a privilege to be able to shoot different universes, with people and social codes that are not necessarily your own. I think cinematic language allows us to assimilate and describe the world in that sense, even when it is completely the opposite of what you’ve experienced.”

Continually challenging herself in order to grow as a filmmaker, Márquez Abella is also very conscious of depicting the female experience. “We are half of the world’s population and our POV is not represented enough,” she says. “This is not a decision, or a fad, this is something that I find myself thinking about or even pursuing without noticing. It’s been pivotal for me to understand that ‘fragility’ can be a strength, and to at least try to stop looking for patriarchal appreciation or recognition, to find new roads.”

Influences: Lucrecia Martel (“her use of sound and dialogue specifically,” she says), Ruben Ostlund, Jean-Luc Godard, Alain Resnais
Agency: APA Agency
Management: Brillstein Entertainment Partners