We recently told you about a film that’s likely to become a favorite on the LGBT film festival circuit this year: The Firefly (La Luciérnaga). The film, which showcases just how beautiful Colombia really is, follows the sudden death of main character Lucia’s (Carolina Guerra) brother and the comfort she finds with his fiancée, Mariana (Olga Segura). This movie that’s both sweet and tragic, funny and heavy, was also successful at delivering an improbable love story with a happy ending.
photo by Fernando Decillis
We spoke with writer/producer/director Ana Maria Hermida about the film and, amongst several topics, chatted about her personal connection to it, why she didn’t make gay panic a major plot point and why she values “positive” films.
Warning: Spoilers ahead
AfterEllen.com: How did you come up with the idea for this movie?
Ana Maria Hermida: It came from a personal experience. It’s not biographical, though. I had a younger brother who I had a very good relationship with and he passed away in a car accident. This was in December 2007. That experience totally changed my life. I started mourning him very hardcore. I was very depressed and I just didn’t know how to deal with the pain that I was feeling. And then his longtime girlfriend, who I knew personally for years and she was always like my little sister, she called me. I was living in New York City at the time. She’s like, “Can I come spend some time with you in New York?” And I’m like, “Of course.” So the fact that she was coming to visit me gave me strength. When she came and I saw her and she was kind of worse than me, it made me stronger. I was able to help her and she stayed with me for like a month. And I caught her looking at me like, “Oh my God, you look just like your brother.” I was able to recognize that she saw him in me. It was very beautiful and interesting. It had nothing to do with sex or anything. It was just like, I don’t know, it inspired me. And then I was like, “Oh my God, this could be a beautiful love story between two women.” They don’t necessarily need to be lesbians. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but I just was interested in making a love story about love; about circumstances.
AE: If my understanding is correct, there haven’t been many Colombian films with lesbian storylines. Since this is the first feature length film you’ve written, produced and directed, did you not worry you would not be able to get it made because of its content?
AMH: I was never really worried about that specific fact. I knew I was going to make it. My family is very Catholic, so always in the back of my head I wanted to make a film for my family, for my parents. Something that, even if they don’t agree or if they don’t like certain topics, they could understand. And that’s exactly what happened. They’re like, “Oh, wow. This is a beautiful film.” Nobody ended up judging it. I didn’t want to make a film, especially here in Colombia where we’re a little bit–certain topics are still a little bit of a taboo. I didn’t want to make a preachy film, or be like, “You have to accept this. You have to do this.” You know? I just wanted to show a love story that even if you don’t agree with, you could understand. So that was never my worry. I really wanted to make this film happen and I was going to make it happen regardless of whoever thought anything. I didn’t care.
AE: Was there ever a part of you that said, “Okay, let’s not make this a lesbian storyline”? Or was there a part of you that wanted to shake things up?
AMH: I never cared. More than thinking I was making a lesbian story, I thought, “I’m making a love story.” That’s it. And that was my goal. And I didn’t care. Love is something so universal and beautiful that nothing else in my mind or heart were worried about anything. I actually thought this could help others understand certain differences.