Andrés Rodelo of the Buenos Aires Talent Press, reviews Nicolás Videla y Camila Donoso film Naomi Campbel, which its part of the International Competition of the BAFICI, Independent Film Festival.

scene from the film Naomi Campbel, by Nicolás Videla y Camila Donoso

Role model by Andrés Rodelo

If Tony Manero (2007), the film by Chilean Pablo Larraín, had as its epicenter the story of a man obsessed with winning a game show as and imitator of the protagonist of Saturday Night Fever (1997), the also Chilean Naomi Campbel (2013), directed by Nicolás Videla and Camila Donoso, follows the line of this concept, telling the story of an Afro-Colombian transsexual who dreams of participating in a reality show so as to undergo a sex reassignment surgery to resemble the famous model.

The philosophy of “I want to be like…” is present in both films. That idealization of a model of behavior–either fictitious or real- introduces a rebirth for both characters, who in this way expect to escape a reality which oppresses them: on the one hand the repression of the Chilean dictatorship and on the other the weight of the traditionalist values of La Victoria, a neighborhood of the nation’s capital, where this couple’s film takes place.

But the film’s Naomi Campbel is only a secondary character. Yermén, another transsexual who is going through the same situation, is the real protagonist here. Like her (his) companion, Yermén has established a platonic identification with an unattainable being. Her (his) case is a little more provocative: she (he) devotionally commends herself (himself) to the Virgin Mary and asks her to fulfill her (his) wish of becoming a woman. That is, her (his) wish of being like her.

In fact, if we take into account that Yermén performs tarot readings on the phone, sometimes acting as a guide who listens to the existential worries of clients and predicts future events, the theory of the Virgin gains even further strength.

From the start, the idea of baptizing a film with the name of a secondary character anticipates what will come up next, since Naomi Campbel rests on an unconventional concept that pays more attention to the surrounding elements of the central plot and less to a linear structure that determines its development. In this way, the story dispersedly jumps from situation to situation, without drawing a continuous unit.

Yermén’s longed-for change of sex is interrupted by another series of events, which divert the attention from what is truly important, in the company of a camera that explores with freedom the components of the mise en scène, while the characters interact off-camera. In this sense, the surroundings also steal the attention.

Ultimately, the allegoric spirit of the film is interesting, as well as the desire the protagonist has to assert herself sexually in the world, in spite of what its nature brings about. But its self-conscious and chaotic narration is harmful to the whole, leaving the impression that the exercise of style that is proposed does not work as it should. Clara Picasso Translator Mariángela Martinez Restrepo Talent Press BA Coordiantor