Seduced by the charm and beauty of El Roblito, Nayarit, the Mexican Bruno Santamaria he knew he had to make his next film there. The plot was not defined but that fishing community, with its abundance of free-spirited girls and boys, suited the type of feature film that interested the filmmaker: a coming of age. Bruno finally turned his attention to Dayanara Cisneros, a young trans woman who, although she had already openly manifested her homosexuality, now had to take an even riskier step in her search for a gender identity. Fortunately, she was not alone. The desire and the doubt about being honest about our identity were feelings that navigated the guts of both the protagonist of the documentary and its director. In an interview with Who PREMIERE, both talk about that complicity that saw the birth of the multi-recognized Things we don’t do and how the unimaginable came true.
Dayanara, there is a moment in the documentary where we see you isolate yourself from everything to put on makeup and put on a dress. And this hiding place that you choose, it seems to me that it is a very beautiful place, with seagulls flying free in the sky. Then I would like you to tell me about what led you to choose that place.
[Lo escogí] for being a place that seemed incredible and super lonely, that I said: “No, nobody passes by here, I don’t think nobody will see me.” I was afraid that they would see me in a dress and makeup. So, talking with Bruno, I chose that place […] I found it super beautiful. I wanted that place so that I could secretly dress as a woman. I have gone back a few times but hardly any more.
Bruno, you have commented in other interviews that you experienced a situation similar to Dayanara’s, in the sense of keeping a secret about your identity and having trouble being honest about it. Would you say that the realization of Things we don’t do helped you find the necessary motivation to open up and stay at peace with yourself?
Yes, definitely. Specifically, the first thing that came out of the film was the title. And before the title, there were some personal memories with which I tried to find the reason to make a movie […] Then a common denominator appeared, which had to do with sexual repression. Things we don’t do as a title, it was closely tied to me. It was a title that was hard for me to even justify. I ended up saying: “Well, actually it’s because I hope that with this movie I end up doing the things that I haven’t done.” Getting there to El Roblito and starting to live with girls and boys, and suddenly meeting Dayanara, made all the sense in the world. They were no longer “my things that we don’t do” but the things of the people we were filming. Their stories and their conflicts, specifically that of Dayanara.
«It was not only filming a story but living a process of strong transformation and personal acceptance. It is not by chance that El Roblito is so far away, so isolated, so alone, because in some way it was also my hiding place. “
In that space, I could share with Dayanara’s family, even the decisions of whether or not to have a boyfriend. I just started dating a guy when I started the movie. I felt comfortable sharing him with his family, not only with Dayanara, but with his mother and his older brother. There was a strong bond […] In the end, well, obviously I ended up talking to my parents too. So there was an important transformation.
Dayanara, how would you define what motivated you to finally talk to your parents? And linked to this, how do you perceive that Bruno, by also keeping a secret about his sexuality, was a support for you?
I think that [la clave fue] stop thinking about people and think about me, what I want to do, what I really want. It motivated me a lot when Bruno told me his secret and listening to my mother giving advice to Bruno motivated me much more. They made me stronger so I could tell my parents what I wanted to do. So all that was a super beautiful, super nice motivation. Bruno helped me with the camera a lot because I feel that it gave me a lot of security. I feel like it gave me a lot of courage […] It was kind of cool that Bruno was there filming because I think it helped my parents not have a very aggressive reaction.
What did you feel or think when you were honest with your parents? That is, in those seconds before you told them, going through that long silence in which there was no response, until finally your dad declared that “if it’s your dream, then do it.” How was all this web of emotions?
From very early that day, they were nerves to everything they gave. And since we were all [reunidos en la cocina] it was that “I want to regret it”, but it was also that “no, we are here.” [Al momento de decirles, empecé a] see my parents’ faces and try to guess what they were thinking.
“Thousands and thousands of things were going through my head: that they were going to say no, that they were going to send me off or that they were going to treat me in a violent way. Those seconds were months for me.
It was only a few seconds, a few minutes, but in those minutes a lot of things went through my head, that “well, I already did it, what difference does it make?” Once my dad said “ok, do what you want to do, make your dream come true,” then it became super nice. I rested, because, I said, “ok, my parents already accepted me, I already have their permission”. It was something super cool that it was like that.
Bruno, linked to what Dayanara already commented, indeed you were not a director / cameraman who stayed out of the situation, but your mere presence was an enormous support. On your side, what emotions or reflections arose at the time of filming that whole sequence?
I think there were a lot of nerves going into the kitchen first because only Dayanara, Zita [la sonidista] and I knew what could happen. Dayanara had told us: “If I do it, I do it; if I don’t, then I didn’t ”. And we said: “Yes, ok, we will be there.” So it was like thinking: “Is it going to happen or is it not going to happen?” With the camera, attentive. We were used to having coffee almost every night at Dayanara’s house [pero en aquella ocasión] something else was going to happen and the mother realized it and began to ask.
“’What’s up?’, He asks Dayanara, ‘you’re very serious.’ Suddenly Dayanara gets up and I feel like it’s going to happen. Then I am with the camera and I also get up. I already had the tripod ready, because I didn’t want to distract them with my movement ”.
Dayanara began to speak […] I didn’t know how mom or dad would react. Honestly, I had a very close relationship with the mother, but not with the father. I hadn’t gotten that close to him. So I was scared, really, and stopped thinking. I froze. I felt like I had to turn around with the camera to see dad, but it was the hardest part […] I was very afraid that the father would be upset, that he would take me out, that he would cum [pero de cualquier manera] I turned to see him and began to see that his eyes were rolling from one side to the other, thinking […] I told them: “Well, I think that’s enough, I’ll go out, let them talk alone.” And the mother told me: “No, you stay.” So I stayed there too. Silence followed and then Dayanara left.
«I found her outside her house and it was a moment of liberation. At that moment I reconnected and I felt a lot of emotion and a lot of admiration, the truth […] I couldn’t believe what had happened. Then we went to the house of Dayanara’s godmother and there we continued talking about what happened. It was assimilating what had just happened, which in my opinion was undoubtedly a giant thing: daring to tell your parents that at sixteen ».
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As I interpret it, the title of the film refers to how difficult it is to take that step towards maturity or towards self acceptance. So, Dayanara and Bruno, from their experience, what must happen so that “the things we don’t do” become the things we dare to do?
D: I think stop thinking about others and what may happen. Think about your future, think about who you are, think about who you want to be. And leave everything, everything, everything behind and start a new life with things that you are going to do. Go forward and now, “things we don’t do”, leave it behind because it is a fear, it is a fear that is feared […] And so super nice things are happening.
B: Complementing what Dayanara says, it is about finding support points. I think that you don’t do the things you want to do because you are afraid of the world, of society, of people who do not tolerate or people who are aggressive. So not actually doing things sometimes is for fear of getting hurt. Dayanara makes it very clear to me that she dared to do the things she wanted to do because she built a space of trust with her mother, with the children of El Roblito – well, in this case also with us, with us – and not just in the movie but in what came after. She follows a strong work process so great that she was even invited to be a preschool teacher and that is because she has been transforming.
«So she has been very careful, step by step, creating the conditions so that she can do the things she wants, without taking all the risks. Surely there are always risks but I think [la clave es] to build bonds of trust, friendship, to be able to talk about it with someone or two ».
As Dayanara says, one need not be afraid. You should be able to do what you want without worrying about others. But since the world is sometimes not so friendly, it is worth that, creating bonds that help you endure. I think that for me is the important thing for the next things that we want to do.
A few days ago, I read an article where it was stated that in Mexico, nine out of ten members of the LGBT community keep their gender identity hidden. How do you think or hope this film will be received by those who still have doubts about coming out of the closet?
D: I think it is a documentary that can give you value. You are in a place where society will always have an opinion, where people will always speak. And it is to say: “You know what? No longer, I will no longer think about others. I’m going to think about myself and I’m going to think about what I want to do ” […] It is about leaving society on the ground, getting on top of it and beginning to see life in a different way based on what you want to do. It is about leaving the whole world behind and starting yourself, alone or with someone. I know it is difficult to keep a secret because I lived it for years. It’s something super heavy, but I think that thinking about yourself fills you with courage, fills you with courage, to be able to bring out what you carry inside.
B: I think that I wish something would happen like what happened to me with many films, but specifically with the films of Julián Hernández and Roberto Fiesco. When I was between eleven and fourteen years old, I would secretly see them at the Cineteca. Movies like A thousand clouds of peace I have them on DVD, but I didn’t share that I was looking at them. And I think that this has to continue to happen a lot; less and less, luckily.
«[Esas películas] They moved me a lot and made me want to invite people to the movies. I remember that I went to the movies and saw that they went in pairs or in groups of friends. I was alone and that seemed horrible to me: feeling that I could not even share the desire to see a movie.
So hopefully that can happen with this movie too [Cosas que no hacemos]. That there are people who watch it and that at the end of the film, they are left thinking about why and how to start building spaces or links that help you to go out together. For me that would be an achievement, that those people who are going to look at her without telling anyone – who are still very afraid – feel empathy and recognition after meeting Dayanara.
Since last Friday, June 25, Things we do It is shown commercially in selected cinemas in Guadalajara, Toluca, Jalapa, Tepic, Monterrey, San Cristóbal de las Casas and CDMX. Follow the social media of the movie for more information.
Due to the health crisis due to COVID-19, at Cine PREMIERE we recommend you review with the health authorities the necessary health measures (especially the General guideline for the mitigation and prevention of COVID-19 in closed public spaces) before going to the cinema to see a movie.