This Mexican project, directed by Tania Hernández Velasco in collaboration with Semillites Hernández Velasco, received the IDFA Spotlight Award at DocMontevideo.
My Body Is an Expanding Star, produced by the director and Viana González for Autonauta Films, tells the story of Tania and Semillites, siblings who make an imaginary pilgrimage through the memory and geography of their Brown bodies in order to discover their beauty and dignity. As they journey through seas of stretch marks, fields of hair and the constellations of their moles, ancestors emerge to accompany them.
“For me, self-referential filmmaking is a way to expand my bond with the world,” says Tania Hernández Velasco of the decision to turn her and her brother's experience into a documentary film.
“In my films, I have departed from my body, my family and my experience; but I always aspired to trace them with other feelings and questions that are important to the territory I inhabit. In My Body Is an Expanding Star, sharing is the central force, as the film was born out of our need to go through a journey of healing and rebelling together.
“This journey departs from our bond as siblings, which has been a shield against the systemic violence and displacements our family has experienced. And this is what we would like our audience to experience: that it is with others – our family, our friends, our communities, but also us, as part of a genealogy of living beings that have resisted and thrived – that we can find the strength to reimagine ourselves in radical new ways.”
Tania Hernández Velasco
IDFA Programmer María Campaña Ramia, who presented the award at DocMontevideo, says in her statement: “Through the exploration of their common past, two de-indigenized siblings – Tania, a filmmaker, and Semillites, a visual artist – propose a stimulating review of archaic social structures. From their original perspective, making use of a tactile and richly chromatic language and a subtle voice that is nonetheless explosive, the project confronts the racism rooted in Mexican society, as well as normative and emasculating gender conventions.
“During their pitch at DocMontevideo, Tania and producer Viana González shared a powerful presentation of a collaborative project in which multiple voices, images, fragments of bodies, fossils and stars openly enter into a dialogue to reconfigure a full identity that celebrates bodies in all their dimensions.”
Besides the IDFA Spotlight Award, My Body Is an Expanding Star also received the DOK Leipzig and Miradasdoc prizes, making it the most-awarded project at the DocMontevideo market this year.
“The IDFA Spotlight Award means that our project has a resonance with other people, and that’s wonderful,” says González. “Being welcomed by a festival as prestigious as IDFA allows us to be accompanied and supported in this process. It is a great boost for us to finish the film, and a push towards its future distribution."
The award includes travel and accommodation expenses, as well as an accreditation for the director to attend IDFAcademy during this year’s edition of the festival.
My Body Is an Expanding Star is currently in an early stage of editing, and González says the team aims to go deeper into the structure and thus create a good balance between emotion, narrative, and experimentation. Eighty percent of the budget is in place through the Mexican National Fund and the William Greaves Development Fund.
“We are looking for international post-production funds and partners for international sales and distribution. Our goal is to finish the film by the summer of 2024," says González.