After a chaste online romance in which no photos have been exchanged, biracial Miriam (Rodríguez) is shocked to discover that Jean-Louis (Suarez) – the boy she has been planning on inviting to her quinceañera – is also black. With the party drawing ever closer, a panicked Miriam is drawn into a series of lies as she struggles to prevent her family and friends from discovering the “truth”.
Like most places in the western world, the intricacies of race in the Dominican Republic are a complex minefield, and it’s one that Miriam is largely forced to navigate alone without much guidance. Consciously or not, her light-skinned hispanic mother spends much of her time attempting to whitewash her daughter’s identity (Miriam’s hair is a particular source of contention), and Miriam’s black father (Santos) isn’t any more eager to discuss their shared experiences in much detail.
In a world where her tight natural curls are a source of tactile fascination to her friends, and the only black faces Miriam sees are those of poorly-treated hired staff, it’s little wonder she tries to keep Jean-Louis a secret. When she finally comes clean to best pal Jennifer (Rohana), it’s an admission that’s met with a long, stunned silence, a jolting reminder of just how deeply racial issues continue to divide communities.
Dulce Rodríguez gives a beautiful and understated performance as Miriam, and it’s one that directors Natalia Cabral and Oriol Estrada use to great effect. They favour long uninterrupted shots of Miriam’s face, a face which shows a 14-year-old girl weary of shouldering a lifetime of micro-aggressions and parental pressure.
An excellent central performance from newcomer Rodríguez makes this quietly powerful film about racism (both societal and internalised), teenage anxieties and class a must-see.
CAST: Dulce Rodríguez, Carolina Rohana, Pachy Méndez, Frank Perozo, Vicente Santos, Carolina Rohana
DIRECTORS: Natalia Cabral and Oriol Estrada
WRITERS: Natalia Cabral and Oriol Estrada
SYNOPSIS: 14-year-old biracial Dominican girl Miriam (Rodríguez) struggles to hide the fact that her boyfriend is black as her quinceañera approaches.