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2012-Senoritas-posterTHE BLACK SHEEP INTERVIEW

SENORITAS writer/director, Lina Rodriguez

A new voice in filmmaking is about to emerge. Toronto local, and Colombian transplant, Lina Rodriguez completed her first feature, SENORITAS, last year and, after a few festival stops in Latin America, the film will make its Canadian premiere in Toronto this week. Rodriguez is thrilled.

“I know that it’s a film that demands people’s attention,” Rodriguez tells me when we speak about what it’s like to share her film with an audience. She continues, “But I’m excited to see how people will react to it. I think that a film only starts coming alive once people start interacting with it.”

And interact with SENORITAS you must if you want to fully appreciate it. The film is composed of several long shots that allow the viewer to spend a great deal of intimate time with the film’s heroine, Alejandra, at a pivotal time in her life. Inspired by her own life growing up in Colombia, Rodriguez wanted to explore the subtle shifts that take place in young women as they discover who they are and who they want to become.

“When you’re a young woman in your early 20’s, you’re figuring out who you want to be but you’re still dependent on different people. So I think its how the negotiation of the expectations of different people in your life affect who you want to be,” Rodriguez explains of what she wanted to explore.

Alejandra, played by newcomer, Maria Serrano, still lives with her mother (played onscreen by Rodriguez’s own mother). By day, she helps her mother with the chores and works out her abs. By night, she hits the bars with her friends in search of a good time. Rodriguez felt it was crucial to explore how Alejandra inhabits her skin differently depending on who she is around and what she wants from them.


“I think I’m mainly interested in performance. Living our lives as people, whether you’re young or old, you have to pull yourself together and be a person in front of other people and there are different expectations in different spaces,” Rodriguez shares without realizing what I had to do in order to pull myself together for this interview.

She continues her thought process, “Painters sometimes do portraits of people in different settings and you can study their faces. And their faces might be looking to the right or be looking out a window but it’s the same person. The surroundings change you but don’t always inform the person you are and you carry that with you as you grow and you keep living.”

It is this introspection that permeates throughout SENORITAS and getting to that level of depth is why Rodriguez chose to tell her story without any linear narrative and in a series of longer takes.

“Body language and gestures were something I wanted to focus on and as I kept thinking about it by working with the cinematographer and working with the actors, I realized that a way to do this is to take your time and watch, just observe,” she tells me, confiding that this was not her original plan, but rather something that was born out of the process. “Really when you watch someone’s face, in any situation in life, but also in cinema, I think you can tell a lot of things but you just need to take the time. So I wanted to really take that time to just watch her.”

Just before Rodriguez headed to Colombia to shoot SENORITAS, she dove into a John Cassavetes retrospective in Toronto. “I love his films and they’re so powerful, so raw and so full of life. He inspired me to make something that was full of life and to take risks,” she shares, finishing by saying that Cassavetes inspired her to make the film her way.


To hear Rodriguez describe what “her way” is, is actually both refreshing and intriguing. “When you write a script, you know certain things. I’m not so interested in shooting the things that I know though. I’m more interested in trying to shake things up so that everything that I know, I forget.”

This is exactly what makes SENORITAS so mesmerizing and this is why Rodriguez will be a filmmaker to watch for as her career progress in the years to come.

“I want to use filmmaking as a process of discovery. You have an idea, this initial idea, and it guides the process, but we have to try to find things within that process so there is a sense of mystery in what we’re doing. And this way we all have something at risk too. If I know everything and the actors know everything, then we’re just illustrating what we know, and I think it is much more interesting to find things that we don’t know.”

SENORITAS is playing at TIFF Bell Lightbox in Toronto, as of August 22. Rodriguez will be present for a Q+A at the premiere screening, August 22 at 7:00 PM. For more information and for tickets, visit

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