Who’s Afraid of Vagina Wolf is, according to director and actress Anna Margarita Albelo, an auto-fiction; the film includes aspects of her life and work. I loved the movie for many reasons, all of which my limited space here will not allow. So, I’m going to concentrate on what spoke to me as a Latina lesbian in her 40’s, like Anna, the protagonist of the movie. It is, at times, difficult navigating two worlds, in this case the worlds of love and work and the worlds of gays and straights. Add the differences in culture for Latinas in America and you have a dichotomy of beliefs about everything including what it means to be a Latina-American lesbian. This is where we meet Anna; she is going through an existential crisis and a mid-life crisis at the same time, which add to the duality of the conflicts in the movie.
Albelo stated in the Q&A last night that the movie Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf is about honesty. In Albelo’s movie, Anna grapples with this theme as she attempts to reconcile her view of self with how others view her. There is a division in this movie that is evident not just in Latina lesbians’ lives, but in many women’s lives. Latinas struggle with balancing love and career, but also with two, at times, extremely divergent cultures. The facility with which we navigate through our dualities depends on our inner strengths and convictions. Anna suffers from low self-esteem, which hampers her balancing act. Ultimately, Anna has to contend with learning to accept and love herself for all her seemingly contradictory sides.
Albelo also said that she wanted to inspire conversations about lesbian culture. The question I walked away with was, “How can Latina lesbians learn to accept themselves for the complicated, at times, contradictory women we are?” I’ve chosen what is close to my heart here, but the movie does not just speak to Latinas. It points a lens at many social and cultural issues facing all women. Such as, do women artists have to be lonely in order to create? The wonderful news is that the conversations can start after viewing this warm, funny, and touching movie.
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