Bwog Staffer Amrita Banerji attended The Athena Festival’s screening of Carmen y Lola at 9 pm on February 29th at the Lehman Auditorium, directed by Arantxa Echevarría and produced by Arantxa Echevarría and Pilar Sánchez Díaz. It stars Rosy Rodriguez as Carmen, and  Zaira Morales as Lola.

It’s a Saturday night, and almost every seat in the auditorium is filled. As the lights dim, people are still quietly filing in, and I notice that the audience ranges from college students to parents to professors. People were glancing up at the screen, eagerly awaiting for the film to start.

Carmen y Lola is a love story in Spanish, with English subtitles. The audience joined the protagonists Carmen and Lola, two Romani girls living within the constraints of their community in the Madrid suburbs, as they try to navigate life outside of the norms established by their family and community. Their love challenges the reality that women are expected to marry a man and raise children, and the movie follows their journey, grappling with their conflicting feelings of love for each other and familial obligations.  

The Athena Film Festival is a weekend dedicated to screening empowering movies about inspiring, fierce, and bold women.  It was fitting to screen Carmen y Lola, a movie about girls and directed and produced by women. In the spirit of the Athena Film Festival, these girls ultimately choose to be unapologetic and resilient in the face of adversity. 

Even though the movie felt like a fairly predictable, classic, queer romance movie, what was special was the cultural component. This movie gave a glimpse into being queer in a Romani community.  

When the lights turned back on, except for some mild shuffling around, everyone was silent. My fellow audience members and I resonated with or were moved by some part of the movie — whether it be a sense of not belonging, not wanting to disappoint those around us, or young love. 

Overall, the story of two teenage girls falling in love is not one to miss, and if you like female courage, it is definitely worth two hours on a Saturday night.

Image Via Bwarchives