By Celeste Meiffren
photo courtesy of AZ INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL
"Garcia Girls" - UA alumni are responsible for this star of the Arizona International Film Festival, in town until Sunday. The film mirrors three generations of females' sexual awakenings in its narrative.
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Thursday, April 21, 2005
7 out of 10
"How the Garcia Girls Spent Their Summer" was the main attraction at this year's Arizona International Film Festival.
The feature film opened the festival and was one of the biggest attractions for the independent film crowd. While its Sundance appearance earlier this year created some buzz, the fact that it's a product of UA alumni added some extra incentive to catch the film.
It promised to be fairly decent, but I certainly was not expecting it to be as good as it was - not even close.
"Garcia Girls" is a beautiful and poignant film about three women's sexual awakenings over a summer in small-town Arizona.
The grandmother figure, Doña Genoveva (Lucy Gallardo), decides to buy a car. She has never driven before in her life, and her daughter Lolita (Elizabeth Peña) is worried that she will hurt herself. So Genoveva just sits in her car and dreams of driving, until her gardener teaches her how to drive, pro bono. The driving lessons are a metaphor for life, as the gardener teaches her how to live by reawakening a passion inside of her (P.S. There is totally a masturbation scene with the g-ma. Scandalous!).
At the same time, Lolita is experiencing a lack of love and sex. She flirts with the idea of having an affair with her friend's husband, but ends up finding love in another place. Before she finds love, she too has a masturbation scene. But luckily, unlike the g-ma masturbation scene, the shot moves before she completes the transaction.
While this is all going on, Lolita's teenage daughter Blanca (America Ferrera of "Real Women Have Curves") is also exploring her sexuality. Through this story line, the audience is really able to feel the boredom in small town life. Poor Blanca has nothing to do, but she finds a boy to fill her time.
In all three story lines, the car has symbolic significance. For the grandmother, it is a medium through which she is able to rekindle her passion. For Lolita, it is a place in which she experiences unwanted sexual contact. And for Blanca, it is where she first experiences sex.
There are also stories told by old men about their first cars weaved into the narrative. But each story could be either a story about a car or sex, full of innuendos and entendres.
This film was really well done. There were lapses in audio and minor glitches, but the story and direction were solid, highlighting the great acting. The editing was also impressive because it seemed to give the film a gritty, independent feel by having long takes and long scenes. It did not cater to people with low attention spans, which is refreshing.
Overall this film feels like the typical film festival film (say that three times fast). It has a unique story, good acting, good writing, good direction, and it looks fairly low budget. Riedel definitely deserves praise for a beautiful first feature.
While the film is done at the film festival, hopefully it will get distributed so more people can see it.
Hip, hip hooray for UA graduates!