Hispanic cinema has ‘curves’

Kelly Serrian

The premiere film of this semester’s Cultural Film Series, “Real Women Have Curves,” may sound like the bitter retort of a disgruntled Weight Watchers’ member, but I assure you that it is not. It is actually a coming-of-age seriocomedy of Ana, an attractive young Latina from East Los Angeles Throughout the course of the film, the audience is privy to the inner workings of a plethora of complex relationships, on both inter- and intrapersonal levels. “Real Women Have Curves” is wrought with the conflicts that threaten to divide its characters and their cultures.

Ana is an above average 18-year-old, in more ways than one. She is smarter, and also heavier, than most of her peers. Her intelligence fails to escape the attention of the dean of admissions of Columbia University, who offers her a full scholarship to attend. Oblivious to her daughter’s inner potential, her overly-critical mother rarely misses the opportunity to ridicule Ana’s appearance, particularly her figure. Through her own sense of self-identity, Ana reaches out and helps other characters (and hopefully the audience as well) realize their self worth, and also to accept the fact that a woman can be beautiful, regardless of her weight may be.

“Real Women Have Curves” is based on Josefina Lopez’s adaptation of her autobiographical play, which was an underground hit when it debuted in 1990. An HBO production, the film version was originally slated to be shown on cable television. Fate had her own ideas, however, as evidenced by the film’s zealous reception at the 2002 Sundance Film Festival, where it won the coveted Audience Award, and the two female leads walked away with the Special Jury Prize for acting. These accomplishments prompted HBO’s decision to release the film theatrically.

Curves is a milestone in Hispanic American cinema, and even validates it as a true, albeit, new genre. It also elucidates the talents of many Latina women. It is the inaugural film for Latina director Patricia Cordoso. America Ferrara, the actress who portrays Ana, is also a rookie, yet no one would ever know it from her stellar performance. She evokes the audience’s sympathy for the curvaceous antagonist from the opening montage with her frankness, humor and warmth, and she continues to deliver, from one scene to the next, consistently and without disappointment. Ferrara has just begun her own college career (USC), and one can only hope that she will return to acting.

Real Women Have Curves will be shown Saturday at 7 p.m., Sunday at 3:30 and 7 p.m., and Monday at 7 p.m. General Admission is $4, and $3 for students.

There will be a lecture Monday evening only, which will feature Dr. Terry Nance, chair of the communication department, and the members of “The ‘Minority’ Report: Representation of Latina Women,” a communication department senior project.