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Review: ¡Dolores, guapa!


- Jesús Pascual’s documentary, which swept the Panorama Andaluz section at Seville, proves that there is not such a huge gulf between the Holy Week processions in Seville and the pride march

Review: ¡Dolores, guapa!

With all of its screenings sold out, the documentary ¡Dolores, guapa! [+see also:
film profile
, directed by Jesús Pascual (Alcalá de Guadaíra, 1997), was one of the most talked-about titles at the recent 18th Seville European Film Festival, where it won a prize in the Panorama Andaluz section. The jury handed it the Award for Best Film “for its combination of cheek and robustness, and for offering a new angle on Seville’s Holy Week, which manages to venture beyond the local and religious aspects”.

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For sure, this documentary, which proudly bears the subtitle “Queer stories during Seville’s Holy Week”, shows something that has so far been widely known among the city’s residents, but which has not been talked about in public, let alone in front of a camera: how the LGTBIQ+ community gets involved, actively and enthusiastically, in the cofraternities, marches and overall spectacle of the most famous, theatrical and rapturous Holy Week in the world. And so, Pascual interviews individuals who, ever since their childhood, have felt an incredible fervour for Macarena, a virgin whom they think of as a second mother or even a pop star, on the same level as Madonna.

Because it’s not all about faith during the paradoxical and dualistic Holy Week in Seville: in its jam-packed processions, people of every social class, every belief and every sexual orientation rub shoulders… Although, as somebody states in this doc, you do sometimes hear the odd homophobic comment. However, the festive spirit – with its feasts, flirting and plentiful supplies of alcohol – courses through this event and only ever gets dampened by the odd, never-welcome downpour.

An understanding of Seville’s Holy Week in all its magnitude, and how it has a powerful influence on the city’s population right from childhood – this is what is captured during the unique moments of this feature debut. One example of this is when it portrays how even a group of local kids prefer to construct mini, homemade processional floats to play with, instead of playing with cars, balls or dolls. In this movie split into fragments dedicated to various different characters who speak (all introduced with their name, age, profession, neighbourhood and the brotherhood they belong to), the tale of the life, work and shenanigans of Antonio, the famous Palomita de San Gil, serves as a unifying thread: at 88 years of age, he reminisces about his love affairs, parties and cross-dressing in a city that indulges in an excess of everything apart from boredom.

This intriguing, anti-campophobia documentary is by no means boring, taking its title (lit. “Dolores, You’re Gorgeous!”) from a video that went viral in 2019, in which some young gay people sobbed while applauding and throwing flattery at the virgin in their neighbourhood. ¡Dolores, guapa! puts them exactly where they deserve to be, without any concealment or shame, thus giving amplitude and a spotlight to many near-silenced voices… Even though in the marches, those same voices may express their love for the saintly figures at the top of their lungs, amidst the throngs and in broad daylight.

¡Dolores, guapa! is a production by Antonio Bonilla and Antonio Rosa Lobo.

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(Translated from Spanish)

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