New York International Latino Film Festival July 27-August 1, 2010
August 15, 2010 § Leave a comment
Bienvenido to “The 11th Annual New York International Latino Film Festival”, presented by HBO! Get out of the hot sun and into a cool theater by supporting international filmmakers who will be showcasing dozens of films at SVA and Chelsea Cinemas from July 27 to August 1st. While “The Dry Land” starring America Ferrara and Wilmer Valderrama will open the NYILFF this Tuesday, July 27, films entitled “Accountable” to “Yanindara” and over 100 others in between, will guarantee something for everyone.
New York born and raised, graduate from The University of California at Berkeley, and currently living in Brooklyn, filmmaker Betty M Park, makes her directorial debut with her first full length feature with one of The NYILFF’s most highly anticipated films, “Mamachas del Ring”. Betty is currently working as a co-executive producer on a television series for MTV, and has also worked as an editor for a myriad of other networks including, Bravo, TLC, and Court TV.
She took time out of her busy schedule to discuss the many facets of the documentary set in Bolivia and Peru. “Mamachas del Ring” is a full length feature that follows a local Bolivian wife and mother, working as a street vendor, do whatever is necessary to pursue her passion to succeed in the dangerous world of Bolivian professional wrestling, even if it means taking the show on the road to nearby towns and countries, and neglecting her own family in the process.
Q: Sharon Abella: Please clarify WWF vs WWE.
A: Betty M Park: “‘WWF’ is the acronym for ‘World Wildlife Fund’, while ‘World Wrestling Entertainment’ is now ‘WWE’. When I talked about the documentary, “Mamachas del Ring”, in the States, people almost always assume it is mud wrestling, but I have to clarify that it is the opposite of mud wrestling. Most people don’t know that women wrestle, or have a preconceived notion of the whole mud wrestling stereotype.”
Q: Sharon Abella: Talk about the history of professional wrestling in Bolivia. Is it new?
A: Betty M Park: “It began in the 60’s and 70’s, and got the idea from Mexico, who most likely got the idea from the USA. One of the stars in the film, Anna, aka, “The Witch”, came from a long line of wrestlers. Her dad was famous. She had been wrestling longer than the cholitas. So there were a few female wrestlers before the cholitas, but they were the ones who really set the standard for women, especially for the indigenous population in Bolivia. A country like Argentina is much more European. When you walk around Bolivia, the cholitas are very active, but at the same time they are marginalized in society, in favor of the modern, progressive Western ways. ”
Q: Sharon Abella: When you watch WWE in the USA, it seems as if most of it is staged, whereas, Carmen Rosa’s husband, Oscar, had mentioned in the film that none of it is staged. Is that true?
A: Betty M Park: “It’s a mix. They choreograph everything, and work out the story beforehand, but they don’t necessarily stick to that once they are actually in the ring. There is always a good guy and a bad guy, “rough and the technical”. In the documentary you see people get carried away and beat the cr@p out of one another.”
Q: Sharon Abella: Has anyone gotten hurt? Is it real blood?
A: Betty M Park: “It’s pretty impressive to watch. The first time we were shooting and there was blood drawn, we asked about injuries, and they said one guy who broke his neck in the ring and passed away. Anna, “The Witch”, has actually broken her nose a few times, and also broken her shoulder. They definitely get very bruised when they are kicking each other.”
Q: Sharon Abella: What do you think drives these women to this sport? Is it innate?
A: Betty M Park: “It’s definitely sort of an innate passion that drives them, but I also think it’s an outlet for them. For Carmen Rosa, this is her thing and she can do whatever she wants to do with it and separate her from her other roles as mother and wife, and people really appreciate her for her. It’s a constant struggle with her husband though.”
Q: Sharon Abella: Did her husband not want her to wrestle at all, or was it the travel and time apart that upset him?
A: Betty M Park: “The difficulty was when they lost their place to wrestle in La Paz, they had to travel so much. When they were traveling so much, that’s when he got upset. Since then, things are constantly changing. Since the year and a half after the documentary, she has pretty much stopped wrestling. There were other things that attributed to her stopping wrestling, but keeping the peace with her husband, her health, her kids. She was starting to have health complications, internal injuries. One way her husband and Carmen started to work it out was he became her manager, and she started training her son how to wrestle. Her children, especially her daughter were always very supportive of her, and encouraged her to go off and pursue wrestling.”
Q: Sharon Abella: Talk about Carmen Rosa’s courage to leave it all, including her family, behind to pursue her passion for wrestling.
A: Betty M Park: “I feel like it comes from the same place where anyone is driven makes it happen. People, especially with creative passions, can identify with that. You make choices in life despite yourself. There might be a better, more reasonable, sensible choice, but you can be disappointed. It’s definitely something Carmen struggled with. She couldn’t given up wrestling, and she couldn’t give up her family. She was a very caring and sensitive person, it wasn’t as though she could just leave her family without any emotional impact on her.”
Q: Sharon Abella: Discuss the use of claymation.
A: Betty M Park: “It’s very difficult, but I had an animator. He was sort of a one man show, yet we were equally inspired. We got into a zone, we had an idea and we did it. I actually had the idea early on in the shoot. I had done a short film in which I mixed media. When I was in Bolivia, they have these handmade dolls, initially I was thinking I could take these dolls and animate them. When I got back to the States, I realized how hard it was to manipulate them. Then I found Christophe Lopez-Huici, and had offered to help with clay.”
Q: Sharon Abella: Any challenges that you faced as this was your first full length feature, shot in a foreign country?
A: Betty Park: “I was going to bring a DP who is Columbian, and I was leaving on a Wednesday, and the Friday before he said he couldn’t do it. So, I postponed flying down for a week and did a blanket search through NY, looking for DP’s. I had some contacts down in Bolivia and I decided to go down there and decided that if I can’t find a DP down there, I’ll just shoot it myself. It was like a chain of events, but I finally found someone who wound up being perfect. He was living in Bolivia. Things just wind up working out. There were so many obstacles, but I never thought that I wouldn’t finish it, I just always looking for away around any problems that came up.”
Q: Sharon Abella: Did you have different ideas of how you wanted the documentary to be?
A: Betty Park: “I had different ideas of how I wanted the documentary to be, I thought maybe it could be a sports documentary, but then once I got down to Bolivia, things shifted so much, it was more like me reacting to what was going on.”
Q: Sharon Abella: How did Carmen respond to having a documentary made about her?
A: Betty Park: “She’s definitely very open. There’s always that moment where people let you into their world. I remember the first night where she let us into their house, she was very sweet. We had only been shooting with her for a few weeks before that, and she let us into her home. They are show people at heart, they really enjoy the attention. One of my favorite scenes is when they are handing out the fliers and the local children are running after the car trying to grab one.”
Q: Sharon Abella: How do the women in the ring feel about men?
A: Betty Park: “They are part of a larger structure. That male dominance is so rooted in their family structure and society. Carmen is very sensitive when her husband calls her upset, she gets upset too. Another one of my favorite scenes in the film is where Carmen is scared to go down the slide. It was surprising to me. She is a complicated person in some respects. She doesn’t just say, “Yes, Oscar. Yes, Oscar”, to her husband. They do argue.”
Q: Sharon Abella: Has the success of the film helped her career as a wrestler?
A: Betty Park: “She is coming to New York next week. If the documentary gets distribution in Latin America, it will help her.”
***PLEASE SUPPORT “Mamachas del Ring” by attending one of the following screenings:
Thursday, July 29th at 6:00pm at the SVA Theater, Screen 2, located at 333 W. 23rd St (Between 7th and 8th Avenue)
Saturday, July 31st at 12:00pm at Clearview Cinemas Chelsea, Screen 8, 260 West 23rd St (Between 7th and 8th Avenue) *** WITH SPECIAL APPEARANCE OF THE MAIN LEAD CHARACTER, CARMEN ROSA, IN PERSON AFTER THE SCREENING***
as part of “The 92YTribeca’s” Outsider Sports series, “Mamachas del Ring” will screen on
Thursday, August 5th, 7:30pm at “The 92YTRIBECA” located at the 92Y Tribeca Theater, 200 Hudson Street (Between Vestry and Desbrosses).