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IFFR 2022 Big Screen Competition

Review: My Emptiness and I

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- Adrián Silvestre returns to fiction by portraying the misadventures of Raphäelle Perez, a French trans girl who has spent years searching for her identity and a well-rounded life… But haven’t we all?

Review: My Emptiness and I

Can one truly be oneself, with unbridled freedom, and without any pressure from society? This is the question broached in My Emptiness and I [+see also:
trailer
interview: Adrián Silvestre
film profile
]
, a feature selected for the Big Screen Competition at IFFR 2022, and helmed by Adrián Silvestre, following The Objects of Love [+see also:
film review
trailer
film profile
]
and Sediments [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Adrián Silvestre
film profile
]
. As in the latter documentary, once again, the Valencian filmmaker delves into Barcelona’s trans community, now from a fictional point of view and by means of a one-of-a-kind protagonist: Raphäelle Perez, a French girl who, in the film, reveals some of her experiences, particularly those related to the search for her identity.

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Because… What does it mean to be a woman, a trans person or a man? Every single individual has something to say on the subject. And to what extent does someone have to adapt and fit in with social templates in order to be accepted – even leading to alterations in their physique, with the inherent irreversible risk to their health and psychological well-being that that entails? Raphi is wading through a sea of doubt right from the get-go in My Emptiness and I. She works, goes on dates with boys and has girlfriends who support her, but her surroundings continually force her to define and pigeonhole herself, and to conform to an accepted model. And that is not easy to decide on, especially in the absence of any pressure in terms of what everyone else expects of you.

Silvestre, who wrote the screenplay for this feature together with the lead actress and Carlos Marqués-Marcet (an expert in portraying intimate and romantic relationships, as demonstrated by Long Distance [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Carlos Marques-Marcet
film profile
]
, Anchor and Hope [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Carlos Marques-Marcet
film profile
]
and The Days to Come [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Carlos Marques-Marcet
film profile
]
, the latter screened at this very festival in 2019), allows the viewer to accompany Raphi to her psychological consultations, her meetings with the trans group I-Vaginarium (some of the members of which appeared in Sediments) and on her dates with various men. In her sexual encounters, the protagonist must assume roles that are both equally in demand, and which she is not always free to decide upon.

The world of digital dating and hook-up apps, where each profile offers a representation of oneself, on display in a virtual shop window, is a crucial element of the plot of this film, which calls into question the categories, stereotypes and labels that can constitute obstacles on the road towards fully blossoming in one’s life. Perhaps it would be fairer (although admittedly a tad idealistic) to educate other people and inform their points of view, making them permissive and tolerant, so that they will non-judgementally accept people who are different. Because, as Raphi exclaims at one point in the movie, when she finds herself not slotting into any pre-established social category: “I’m not from outer space!” Indeed, she is herself, with her own desires, dreams and shortcomings: it doesn’t matter one iota which dress she is wearing that day or what colour her hair is, because beneath her outward appearance, she is someone unique, with her own personal way of being, feeling and living… Whether the others like it or not.

My Emptiness and I is a production by Testamento ProduccionesPromarfi Futuro and Alba Sotorra Produccions. It won the Work in Progress (WIP) Award at Málaga, while at Abycine Lanza, it bagged the Filmin Distribution Award.

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(Translated from Spanish)

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