The first Venezuelan film to win the Goya Award for Best Latin American Film in 2013 hit screens for the first time on November 27, 2012. Since then, Ferrari’s directorial debut has won over audiences and critics alike for its unique and diverse portrayal of the Venezuelan middle class.
“My Straight Son” follows young and successful Caracas based photographer Diego (played by Guillermo García), whose same-sex partner Fabrizio falls into a coma following a homophobic attack. To make matters worse, while Diego struggles to come to terms with the situation, he must take care of his estranged and bitter teenage son, Armando (Ignacio Montes) who’s visiting from Spain.
Both must adapt. While Diego attempts to find common ground with his straight son, Armando tries to come to terms with his personal insecurities, his father’s sexuality and Diego’s surrounding LGBT lifestyle.
Meanwhile, Diego’s friend, transgender Delirio Del Río helps Armando learn to dance tango in a bid to win a girl’s heart and Perla Marina attempts to break free of her abusive boyfriend.
Over the years Venezuelan movies have not been a huge global success story due to their recurring primary focus on poverty and crime. “My Straight Son,” on the other hand, strays away from the norm, highlighting other issues such as discrimination, familial relationships, domestic abuse and hate crimes in the country. Drawing on socially embedded insecurity, intolerance and the fragile positions of those facing daily threats of violence, which is both a local and global problem, “My Straight Son” hits home with audiences everywhere.
LGBT rights are largely ignored in Venezuela and though same-sex sexual relations are not illegal, same-sex couples and households are not eligible for the same legal protections as opposite-sex couples and it remains illegal to change your legal gender on identification papers. Despite a somewhat thriving LGBT community in the country, hate crimes and social homophobia subsequently remain a prominent unaddressed issue. For that reason Ferrari’s film is one to break down more than just the traditional Venezuelan movie theme. He also addressed a currently unaddressed issue.
However, despite being an LGBT themed movie, Ferrari was able to capture far more diverse and complex range of Venezuelan mindsets and lifestyles than just the LGBT community.
Ferrari uses a simple yet complex approach to portray the diversity and importance of love, whether friendship, family or romance, which helps encapsulate the realities of Venezuelan society today. He also addresses the brutality of hate crimes and the relationship between father and son, even further complicated by Diego’s sexuality.
With a beautiful musical score, composed by Spanish pianist Sergio de la Puente, the film takes us on a loving, heartbreaking and often hilarious journey through the characters’ relationships, as they navigate personal struggles while also finding ways to help one another.
The film is both a protest against discrimination and a celebration of diversity and love.
The strongest character, both comical and courageous, was Del Río (played by Hilda Abrahamz) whose loud-mouthed boldness got her in and out of trouble and kept the audience on their feet throughout.
Hugely likable, Del Río broke through the traditional transgender roles in films, transforming her suffering into empowerment through acts of bravery and optimism. Del Río was Ferrari’s greatest triumph: both a tribute to the transgender community, whose voice remains largely restricted in film and society alike, and a voice of hope for those searching for a better future.
“My Straight Son” will be shown at Frameline 38 San Francisco International LGBT Film Festival at the Victoria Theatre Saturday, June 28 at 4 p.m.