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Leticia Tonos Paniagua’s Dramedy Juanita Premieres at the Fall 2019 New Jersey Film Festival on Friday, September 27!

NEWS | FEATURES | PREVIEWS | EVENTS

By Stephanie Man


originally published: 09/25/2019

Leticia Tonos Paniagua’s Dramedy Juanita Premieres at the Fall 2019 New Jersey Film Festival on Friday, September 27!

Leticia Tonos Paniagua’s dramedy Juanita Premieres at the Fall 2019 New Jersey Film Festival on Friday, September 27!

Here is the interview I conducted with Juanita Director Leticia Tonos Paniagua:

Man: What inspired the story of Juanita?

Tonos Paniagua: Juanita is a symbolic character amongst Dominican culture, it represents every immigrant that returns home for Christmas, bringing many presents and stories about developed worlds where money grows on trees.



 
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Man: Also please tell us more about your film and how you came to make it? 

Tonos Paniagua: I wanted to deconstruct this myth, the truth is that a lot of women migrate from Dominican Republic out of economic necessity and the sacrifice they have to make is not properly valued. I wanted to tell the story about what happens after the welcome party and the sancocho (Dominican Beef Stew).

Man: To what extent was this film a response to the political situation in the Dominican Republic and/or Madrid?

Tonos Paniagua: I wouldn't exactly consider it a response, more like a reflection without judgement on both our situations, Mariano (Spanish) and Juanita (Dominican) represent characters with very specific needs who decide to come together to meet those needs, it's about time we make peace with that reality and besides, who are we to say that is not love?

Man: Juanita’s story is unique, yet speaks to a lot of heartbreaking struggles immigrants face. It is also a very interesting story about an important relationship. Did you ever consider setting the story anywhere else?

Tonos Paniagua: Oh yes, definitely, at one point we strongly considered developing the story in the US, in NY to be exact, but at the end decided to shoot this in Spain, where, in my opinion, the relationship between those two cultures has been more complicated, often conflictive or misunderstood despite speaking the same language.

Man:  If the film were longer and you had a bigger budget, what elements/characters/story beats would you have liked to include and to what end?

Tonos Paniagua: Probably I would have loved to tell more about Juanita's life in Spain and Mariano's too, hoping this would bring a deeper profile of the characters. I also feel the Deivy situation (Juanita' older son) deserved more time.

Man:  Are there any memorable stories while you made this film or any other info about your film you would like to relay to our readers?

Tonos Paniagua: One of my biggest satisfactions on making this film is that 80% of Juanita's dialog is taken from interviews I did with real immigrant Dominican women, it pleases me deeply their voices are being heard.

 



 
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Two political shorts precede Juanita. Here is more info on this screening:

No Al Muro – Luis Pena (San Francisco, California)  A short, lyrical film that celebrates Mexican border culture.  It documents what will be lost if a Wall is built, by capturing the life and vibrancy that is La Frontera -- the border. 2019; 2 min.

Post Election Works – Kate Haug (San Francisco, California)  Drawing on the work of Walter Benjamin, filmmaker Kate Haug examines her identity as it evolves within the context of contemporary politics. A collage of internet imagery and personal reflection, Post-Election Works becomes a dialogue between the online world, the digital archive, activism, and the narrator's subjective experience. 2019; 17 min.

Juanita –  Leticia Tonos Paniagua (Santa Domingo, Dominican Republic)  With Juanita, a poignant dramedy about migration, love, and survival, director Leticia Tonos rewards us with a beautifully modulated combination of pathos and laughter.  Juanita, a Dominican immigrant, has been living illegally in Madrid for some years, but as trouble closes in, she flees into the countryside. There she meets Mariano, a lonely Spanish farmer.  When Juanita brings Mariano to the Dominican Republic for Christmas, the clash and the blending of two cultures begins. In Spanish, subtitled. 2019; 93 min.

Friday, September 27, 2019 at 7:00 PM
 in Voorhees Hall #105/Rutgers University, 71 Hamilton Street, New Brunswick, New Jersey


$14= Advance; $12=General; $10=Students+Seniors

Information: (848) 932-8482;
www.njfilmfest.com

 

 






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