Tardes De Sol. Noches de Agua
CAY Productora, 2019
📷 : Used with permission, CAY Productora
Movies/shows with heavy subjects
Tardes De Sol. Noches de Agua. centers around Lamia, a young woman who is developmentally disabled. She resides in a small Argentinian village under the close supervision of her devoutly Christian mother. Forced to dress conservatively and refrain from any hint of promiscuity, Lamia draws and writes in her diary as an outlet for her fantasies. She creates a character, Sister Rosa, to contrast with the deity that her mother worships and wants her to fear. In her ventures through the village to deliver groceries and her mother’s knitting to neighbors, she develops an infatuation with Rabbit, a local man in the neighborhood who seduces her. After he violently assaults Lamia, she goes into a comatose state, prompting her mother and the village priest to nurse her back to health.
This stellar short film highlights several significant social issues, not the least of which are the attempts of men, religious institutions and older generations to suppress women’s sexuality. Despite the close parental supervision, Lamia lives a very lonely and vulnerable existence. Her mother forces her to recite mantras about the evil nature of men, instructs her to conceal her figure at all times, and physically punishes her upon finding out about her crush on Rabbit. Director VD Menzella highlights this suppressive environment through shots of Lamia hiding her diary or avoiding eye contact with the other characters.
Rabbit’s disturbing assault illuminates the reality that many people with developmental disabilities become victims of violence, despite the frequent narrative that they are more often perpetrators of it. The motive behind many such assaults stems from the culprit’s belief that they will get away with it, largely because the victim’s credibility is questioned. Lamia’s mother, for instance, believes that she has harmed herself, a theory that the local priest adheres to without much pushback. The skepticism and attempts to control women’s behavior have historically led to torture in the name of religion, be it through execution, exile, or other means. Such institutions do offer support and comfort to community members, giving them direction and hope during tough times. However, they also chastise conduct and thought processes that are different from theirs. As opposed to showing compassion, Lamia’s mother and priest instead ostracize her.
Tardes De Sol. Noches de Agua. is reminiscent of feature films such as Boys Don’t Cry and Precious. Lamia, Brandon Teena and Precious are all vulnerable protagonists existing in environments where they are subject to abuse because of their sexuality, gender and skin complexion, either in the household or the larger community. While the films all have different conclusions, they each center around a young character attempting to survive and break free from authoritarian surroundings.