Rosa: A Short Film
I made this short film as my undergraduate Film and TV thesis in NYU. I'd lived my whole life in Colombia, up until college, and most of the work I did there was pretty detached from my South American background (I was exploring the thriller genre and the environment of the tri-state area). As I spent more time away from home, I became more aware of how unique my experiences in Colombia had been; things that had become naturalized to me, all of a sudden seemed idiosyncratic to the point of strange.
The thing that stood out the most while living in New York and visiting Colombia was the intense class difference that plagued the society where I'd been raised. I'd never experienced being part of a world where the middle class was a majority. All of a sudden, going back to where I came from became increasingly uncomfortable as I was hyper-aware of the steep hierarchy that divided Colombians.
Thus, when it came time to write my thesis film, I knew that was what I needed to explore. The story came easily, 90% of what you'll see in the movie happened at some point or another (except the part at the end, you'll know when it happens). The relationship between the boy and Rosa is entirely based on my relationship with my family's maid - Aracely - growing up. As a matter of fact, I wrote the script with her specifically in mind. I was much more interested in exploring her side of the story than mine, as maids are such tentpoles of the Colombian family, but completely invisible in our narratives due to their status. However, I was also acutely aware that I had never had a similar experience, and did not want to appropriate the voice of someone with less privilege. I decided that whoever played the role of Rosa had to be a domestic worker in real life, and the first person I approached to do it was in fact Aracely. She said yes on the spot.
Having been raised by her, we were able to talk in a very open way about the uncomfortable subjects that the film tackles. In the end, I believe she was essential to making this an honest piece.
I hope you enjoy it, I hope it provokes reflection.
Rosa is available here and on HULU