Solidifying the ties between the ECAM Community of Madrid film school and the European industry, its Screen Incubator, one of its industry programs, has selected Estibaliz Urresola’s “20,000 Species of Bees” among the five new projects in its third edition.
Produced by Gariza Films and Urresola’s own Sirimiri Films, the feature turns on Lucía, a six-year-old girl, who sometimes struggles as the world tries to catch up with the fact that she has a penis. As the summer holidays pass she explores her femininity alongside the women of her family who at the same time reflect on their own femininity.
Variety talked with Urresola, an ESCAC alum, who had already caught attention with her short film “Adri” and her debut documentary “Voces de Papel” both exploring themes and interests that are further developed in “20,000 Species of Bees.”
One of the most interesting decisions you take is changing during the film the point of view from Lucía to her mother. Could you comment?
The issue of point of view has been and continues to be one of the most debated issues on how to approach the film. Lucía’s unique point of view seemed to be what everyone invited me to do, but the truth is that the contact that I had with the reality of transsexual minors came rather through their relationship with their parents and how they had to confront the fact and make the mental transition themselves. Because as has been said many times, it’s the rest of the family that has to change its mentality. For me, the family is clearly a hive of absolute emotional inter-dependence, protecting and determining the construction of identity.
Transexual identity is also constructed through images put to the screen. What is your approach when creating these images?
As filmmakers we are producing and building new symbolic scenarios. That’s why it was important for me to be able to create a film breaking from a single point of view when facing something as complex as sexual identity, a film that’s sufficiently polyhedral that it reflects different points of view. This is something I’ll continue to defend. It seems essential to be able to offer a six-year-old child a place to see itself, but I want the end of the film to have enough light to represent possible futures.
Through your work, there’s a very subjective approach to the moment of recognition and identification through one’s own body. Could you comment?
I wasn’t that aware of a link but I feel that there is something very inherent in femininity that is related to modesty and shame as control mechanisms for the construction of gender identity. And that has always marked my work in terms of cinematographic language. In ‘Adri’ it was vital to feel that subjectivity in the first person. In “20,000 Species,” I need o escape all that. I need the public to see Lucia. how she feels so that later they will be able to feel the contradiction from the point of view of the mother.
Why the presence of bees in Lucía’s growth?
Bees are a guarantor of diversity in nature, the hive itself is a prominently feminine environment, not only the queen but the workers. That generated a resonance with an eminently feminine family that surrounds Lucia. Each of these women represent different expressions of femininity in what is a kind of hymn to diversity in ways of being and feeling as a woman. Also, beekeeping in the Basque country has been closely linked to a tradition where bees were regarded as sacred animals. They were made part of the family and were informed about the events that happened to the family. In many ways, that seemed pretty fascinating to me.