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Morelia Film Festival: A dancer in Tijuana tells her own tale

October 19, 2010 |  1:28 pm

Aidee gonzalez tierra madre

In real life and on screen, Aidee Gonzalez is a dancer at a strip joint in Tijuana. She's raising kids in the town of Tecate, east of the city, working to make them a better home and supporting her girlfriend, who wishes to become pregnant. Suffering a betrayal, Gonzalez descends into depression but eventually picks herself up.

Her story is depicted in "Tierra Madre," a feature film in competition at the Morelia International Film Festival.

"Tierra Madre" blurs the line between fiction and nonfiction in a rare case of storytelling where the subject appears to have complete control and agency over how her story is told. Gonzalez plays herself in the film and also co-directed and co-wrote it with New York-based filmmaker Dylan Verrechia. It was made on a true shoestring budget -- $2,000 and a "crew of one" -- and features all non-actors, mostly Gonzalez's friends and family.

Here's the trailer.

The filmmakers were on hand at the premiere screening in Morelia. Gonzalez was received with cheers and applause, with several audience members congratulating her for "bravely" demonstrating her truth as a woman, lesbian, stripper and native of the Tijuana border region.

"People only hear about the bad side of Tijuana," she said. "I wanted to show there is beauty there, hard-working people, who are concerned about their children."

Gonzalez, dressed elegantly in a black dress and pearls, said she was moved by the experience of watching herself on screen. "I have no words, I come to the movie theater, and see myself up there, and I can't believe it, honestly."

The filmmakers said "Tierra Madre" will be screened at future festivals in Europe and the United States (link in Spanish).

-- Daniel Hernandez in Morelia, Mexico

Photo: Aidee Gonzalez in the film 'Tierra Madre.' Credit: Verrechia Films