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True/False Conversations - Healing Through Art in 'Primas'

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This story is part of True/False Conversations, a series of in-depth interviews with the filmmakers of this year's True/False Film Fes​​t.

Primas tells the story of two cousins who experienced sexual violence as teenagers and their journey of healing through art. Director Laura Bari followed cousins Rocio and Aldana from Argentina to her home in Montreal over the course of the film. 

Bari said she saw a lot of parallels between her film and the current Me Too movement in the United States. Both deal with young women finding their voices after experiencing traumatic events.

Primas was chosen as this year’s True Life Fund film, where donations provided by fest attendees will support Rocio and Aldana’s future education.

Bari spoke with KBIA’s Elena Rivera about a pivotal scene where the cousins talk about their shared trauma for the first time.

Laura Bari: So I want to tell you about this scene because it is important, you will understand. I cannot separate contents from aesthetics from--it's one piece, I cannot separate my life in parts, or just teaching, because I am also a full-time teacher, you know, to being an aunt, to being a woman, to be a partícula en el universo, you know? It's the same thing.

Rivera: It's all connected.

Bari: So, I put them together and Elena, íncreible. These girls--they both had this experience, you have survived this, and you have survived this, and you're a person, you're an amazing person, and I also know that it's a lot to have been through this. Then, I am a filmmaker, and we need to share this. So I opened my camera, and I asked my team not to interrupt. We're in that bedroom. Elena, they spoke for fifteen minutes, non-stop, I didn't cut. I just didn't cut. It's a sequence, a planned sequence, I cut twice, information I was not allowed to leave in there, and then it is amazing, and then everything closed, little by little. But the pain, as Aldana says in the film, the pain always comes back, and we understand it, it's maybe little but it always comes back, and it's in each one of us.

Rivera: One of the questions I had was how do you think the film resonates with the current social and political climate, and you kind of already said it, it totally does. It's talking about the strength and the resiliency and the beauty of these young women healing from these horrific things in their life.

Bari: These are the things they taught me, these girls. Each time I pass through the process of creation of a film, I just would match more consciousness and knowledge about the subject. So, then I was filming Rocio in the Cirque du Soleil and I was doing a metaphor. I do a metaphor, to play, to pretend, symbolic games, and then I said, okay we are warriors. And she said, I fight with a smile. So we are fighters with a smile, you know? The three of us. And the whole team, te prometo, we laugh so much, and we cry. If people in Me Too are expressing those words through radio, through internets, others, we are doing it through art. And these chicas were doing mime, theater, contemporary dance, circus, French, English, it was an immersion what your body can say without using words, you know? And then they say in a different way, and this is another method that they want to say, yes, we can transform ourselves and the others, of telling the truth.

Elena Rivera is a graduate student at the University of Missouri with a focus in radio reporting. She has reported and produced stories on arts and culture, education and mental health for KBIA. She received a B.A. in Communication and International Studies from Hope College in Holland, Michigan. Before coming to KBIA, Elena worked as the Career Development Specialist for a North Carolina non-profit called Dress for Success Triangle, which helped unemployed and underemployed women find jobs.