Venezuela was given some good news on Sunday – something that the country hasn’t had in a long time.
Azul y no tan rosa (or, Blue and not so pink), a comedy-drama about a gay man’s relationship with his straight son, won best Ibero-American picture Sunday night at the Spanish Cinema Academy’s Goya Awards. It was a first win for Venezuela whose entry was selected over films representing Mexico, Argentina and Chile.
Writer, director and producer Miguel Ferrari was ecstatic as he went up on stage accompanied by cast members at Madrid’s Príncipe Felipe convention center. The Goya comes amid what is being viewed as hearty revival in Venezuela’s movie-making industry. In September, another Venezuelan production, Pelo malo (or, Bad hair), won the Golden Shell for best picture at the San Sebastián film festival.
Both Azul y no tan rosa and Pelo malo are wakeup calls against intolerance and homophobia in today’s society. Venezuela also scored another hit with Claudia Pinto’s La distancia más larga, which last year won Best Latin American Film at the Montreal Festival.
As soon as he received the statuette, an emotional Ferrari shouted to the audience: “This is the first Goya for Venezuela.” Films from Venezuela had been nominated on six other occasions in this same category, but never won the prestigious prize awarded annually by the Spanish academy.
I made a movie that everyone could relate to, independently of where they stand"
Standing behind Ferrari on stage were Venezuelan actors Guillermo García, Hilda Abrahamz and Daniela Alvarado, and the Spaniard Nacho Montes.
More than half a million people in Venezuela have seen Azul y no tan rosa since its premiere in November 2012. Proof of its success can be weighed by the statistics of cinema ticket sales. Of the 2,020,000 tickets bought by movie-goers in Venezuela between January and September 2013, 436,000 were for Azul y no tan rosa.
Even though it wasn’t a favorite among critics, viewers were attracted by the film’s themes, such as sexual diversity, trans-sexuality and gender violence, which have all been taboo subjects for public discussion in Venezuela. That is why Ferrari, an actor who is well known for his parts in television soap operas and has been residing in Spain for a number of years, said his cast had a lot of courage.
“They dared to act in this movie and put their voices and hearts into roles that are not normally played because of prejudices,” he said. “I made a movie that everyone could relate to, independently of where they stand. It is a story about love and re-encounters. I hope one day Venezuelans will be able to rediscover themselves and respect each other despite our differences.”
Later in an interview with Globovisíon, the opposition television channel which broadcasts on the internet from Miami, Ferrari said the prize is “an accolade for my career and for cinematography in our country, which is rapidly gaining strength.”
“This good news is welcome because despite the difficulties we are facing, this will help us improve Venezuela. We are generous and honest workers. This is a big and gigantic boost.”
Ferrari avoided speaking about the tense political climate in Venezuela, which is being fueled by violence, severe shortages of consumer goods and high inflation. The ruling United Socialist Party of Venezuelan (PSUV) has put on the back-burner discussions on introducing laws to protect sexual diversity at a time when the entire nation is completely polarized. In April 2010, President Nicolás Maduro, while serving as foreign minister, called the opposition “faggots” but he retracted four days later saying that his statement had “another connotation.”
In any case, Azul y no tan rosa was made with public financing from the Venezuelan government. After it won the Goya, Maduro congratulated the cast and crew on his Twitter account.