Tamara (Elia K. Scheneider) Review. A Venezuelan LGBTI film with 9 nominations at MIFF Awards in Milan

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By Sandra M. Ríos (@sandritamrios)

Elia K. Schneider is the director who has taken this story into big screen that is inspired on Tamara Adrian, the first transgender deputy in Venezuela and an important activist por sexual minorities and women in Latin America.


The film has just received 9 nominations at MIFF Awards organized by Milan International Film Festival and Leonardo Da Vinci Film Society.

Tamara is the title of this feature film that serves as great example about all difficulties transgenders have in all over the world to the time of asserting their condition to society in order to be accepted and seen as they see themselves. But beyond that, this is about a person with great character, decision power and sense of dignity.

Narrated with great accuracy, good pace and no sensationalism, in this film we meet Tamara when he was Tomás Adrián Hernández (in this adaptation is called Teo), a professional man, lawyer, that knows what he really is inside but he takes the longest way to please to his family and what society is expecting from him. At first, he denies his reality, so he gets married and has two children. But he is not a bad father and much less a bad husband. He hasn’t made their lives into a living hell, but the inner and latent call is here. When he is working as university professor the time to be the real himself comes, his “release status” makes suffer to his closest relatives and puts in an awkward position to others because of their prejudices in a stagnating and conservative society.

Tamara is an emotional, intense and acceptance travel within a human being. It is a story that shows us the different stages a transgender person goes through. We meet a character which is very easy to connect because of his external beauty and, specially, his inner strength; he stays always calm and sees the life pragmatically.

On this feature film the performance of Venezuelan actor Luis Fernandez is essential. He controls his body and expressiveness very well in order to not cross the unwanted line of caricature and disrespect to this great character with a great life story and, in general, transgender people. Tamara demanded a lot of versatility and Luis Fernandez has gotten. His version of woman and man in a same person are organic and credible.

Tamara is a universal film. It is set in a Venezuela, but we don’t see signals of its real political atmosphere or things like those. Repression against this character on the part of the power in one scene, is something that can happen in other part of the world, indeed. The movie seems to take precautions for not matching in a particular time. Scheneider’s direction is sensitive, without major point of views and taking some elements of documentary language. It is close to social realism.

Tamara was filmed in 2013 with a screenplay written between the same Schneider and Fernando Butazzoni, which had already worked in her movie “Desautorizados”. Director was involved in the case of Tamara for a recommendation of her son, Joel Novoa, who is also a film director (Esclavo de Dios).

This is a successful case, a story of empowerment, struggle and gender equality.

More about MIFF nominations

Known as “Milanese Sundance”, MIFF International Film Festival rebranded in 2010 as an Award similar to Oscars but dedicated to independent films worldwide. It is an event organized by Leonardo Da Vinci Film Society. A committee of this society is on charge to select feature films in its 16 categories included best documentary, Italian film and three categories exclusive for short-films.

Among 20 movies, Tamara is the most nominated film in this edition with 9 nominations: Best film, direction, screenplay, actor, supporting actress, cinematography, edition, music or song and production design. Tamara makes part of two other Iberoamerican films in this competition with “Silk Road” from Spain and “Entonces Nosotros” (About Us) from Costa Rica.

Next 4th of May winners will be announced. This same day, the movie will be closing the Chicago Latino Film Festival.

Cast & Crew

  • Direction: Elia K. Schneider
  • Screenplay: Fernando Butazzoni, Elia K. Schneider
  • Running Time: 110 minutes
  • Genre: Drama
  • Cast: Luis Fernandez, Prakriti Maduro, Mimi Lazo, Karina Velásquez, Carlota Sosa, Tamara Adrián, Ray Angel Torres, Julie Restifo, Alberto Alifa, Laureano Olivares, Joel Novoa, Francisco Denis, Mercedes Brito
  • Edition: Christian Alexander
  • Cinematography: Petr Cikhart
  • Music: Osvaldo Montes
  • Production Design: Yvo Hernandez
  • Countries: Venezuela, France
  • Year: 2016

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