Write the past, to enrich the present

Monika revilla she came to think that professional writing was not for her. Although she always had an affinity for the pen and the word – and spent her childhood staging plays and forcing her brothers to participate in them – the stigma of the instability of the trade and a rather practical personality pushed her to other paths. “I lived in Madrid and Berlin and worked in corporations,” he tells us, “but it was always a maximum of one year and I quit, because emotionally I couldn’t. In the morning I had existential crisis thinking that I would have to do that for 40 years ”.

One day he succumbed to the truth: something was not working. “And that’s when I decided to get into the script,” she confesses, an activity that in her eyes reconciled her desire for structure with her soul as a writer. “To everyone’s surprise, it worked.”

Arcelia Ramirez

Monika returned to Mexico, began to write documentaries and little by little the doors opened. Today, his career as a screenwriter includes projects such as The house of flowers, the Manolo Caro series, or the long-awaited historical film The dance of 41, directed by David Pablos (The chosen ones). “I learned in a self-taught way. I didn’t follow the conventional path of studying film or screenwriting, “he tells us,” but I think that helps. I feel that sometimes there is a lot of competition that is generated in film schools and it can become self-conscious. I think that innocence or ignorance helped me a lot at the beginning, because I was not afraid of knocking on doors or standing up and delivering a badly written text, “he laughs.

That courage, which comes from learning without the weight of imposed limits, eventually led her to write her first miniseries for Canal Once, alongside Patricia Arriaga-Jordán (Malinche). Juana Inés, the fictionalized portrait of Sor Juana Ines De La Cruz, starring Arcelia Ramírez, marked the first time Monika dared to call herself a “screenwriter.” “There is a lot of imposter syndrome, especially when you don’t have a formal education. But that was the first time that people I did not know approached me and told me that they had loved my work ”, he reveals.

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Also writer of the series Malinche and Someone has to die –Manolo Caro’s new production for Netflix, set in Spain in the 50s–, the work of Monika she has always been intimately linked to the past, sensitively filling the blind spots of official history and creating on paper images little seen in the Mexican audiovisual universe. “When we began to write Juana Inés, I realized that we had never seen seventeenth-century Mexico,” she reflects, “from an identity point of view, it seems very important to me that we make more historical content, see our past from various perspectives. It was the same with El baile de los 41, I also think that we have seen very little in film and TV in our 19th century, from the Porfiriato ”.

The dance of 41 Monika RevillaMonika Revilla made clear her interest in the diversity of stories with her script for El baile de los 41, by David Pablos.

The dance of the 41 takes up an episode in the history of Mexico that the passage of time has turned into a joke: the police raid that occurred at a clandestine homosexual dance, in which the son-in-law of Porfirio Díaz was present. “I just wanted to turn that around because for a century it has been remembered as a joke, used to poke fun at gays. It has never been given the seriousness it deserves, since what it represented was the coming out of homosexuality in Mexican society. It is fundamental in the history of sexuality in this country and I wanted to subvert that to tell a human experience ”.

Diversity and representation are two concepts that Monika considers key to the trade, and that has had the opportunity to explode in series like La casa de las flores. “I am especially proud of the character of María José, because she was new to the Mexican small screens. Before, there were trans characters, but they were secondary, while this one had an emotional baggage ”, the screenwriter confesses, for whom writing with a gender perspective has nothing to do with limiting creativity.

“Unlike! It opens the universe to you. It is not that you always have a female character and it is not exclusive to women. It is about writing being aware that we have preconceived gender roles and that we must break with them. It is unlearning and that gives you to create characters with a combination of characteristics that you had not imagined. Diversity enriches stories, in addition to being good business”.

In the midst of the boom in audiovisual products, thanks to the appearance of streaming platforms such as Netflix, Monika Revilla is optimistic about the future of her trade. “For decades, Mexican society changed, but its TV didn’t. And then these platforms arrived and they turned on the tap of these stories that were accumulating, but that no one had told. Right now there is a great thirst for novel stories, which have never been told before. Yes, there is much more opportunity, but also a lot of content competition ”.

Photo art: Viridiana Salazar (@un_astronauta)

Mexican cinema women filmmakers

Jessica Oliva Journalist, editor at Cine PREMIERE and frustrated dancer in her spare time. Fond of cinema, literature, tango, useless data and the opportunity to wake up doing whatever it takes.