Eva is being allowed to leave the psychiatric institution she’s lived in for six years. It’s the first step to reach the normal life she’s been longing for, but what does “normal” mean?
While she waits for an assisted living residence to free up, Eva takes stock of her past and works on her self-confidence as well as her trust in the outside world. When there’s finally a home for her, Eva’s aspirations start to come true: finding a job and earning an income of her own, visit her mother… even find love. But, above all, Eva has a dream: to reconnect with her son and ask for forgiveness after fifteen years of silence.
The First Woman is a film about second chances, the search for “normality” and the bumpy borderline between lucidity and darkness.
In my life, as in my work, I have always been attracted by radical forms of thought, by the perspectives from the margins, as well as by the suffering and lucidity that crosses the mentally ill.
Two years ago I gave a documentary film workshop at the Psychiatric Hospital of Mallorca. There I met Eva, one of the patients, the only student who never missed a class. We soon created a strong bond. After six years in the hospital, her punished gaze clashed with her vitality and her passion for redeeming a life of excess in endless nights. Her story of resilience connected with my youthful fascination: Eva embodied the blurred boundaries between lucidity and illness.
Eva has a dream that drives her to fight for her freedom. It is a powerful goal, which marks her day-to-day life: to meet again her son Daniel. She has not seen him since she was diagnosed fifteen years ago. Having a life project is something unusual and deeply valuable in a psychiatric hospital where illness and a certain medical paternalism can wither any desire for an autonomous life. As Eva told me, without that dream, she would be dead today. She has no desire to fulfill it but knows that she cannot fail her child again.
I have systematically followed Eva’s life over the last two years in the hospital. During this time I have faced my own prejudices and those same imbalances that condition Eva’s life. Our relationship is not always easy and even today it requires patience and regaining trust from time to time. I hope that her generosity, her vitality and her humour in sharing her intimacy, will clear up some of the taboos that still hang over the collective of mental illness.
Title: La primera mujer
International title: The First Woman
Length: 76 min
Filming format: HD
Protection format: DCP
Aspect ratio: 1.77:1
Sound: Dolby 5.1
Original language: Spanish
Locations: Palma, Manacor
Year of production: 2020
Production company: Mosaic Producciones
Coproduced by: IB3 Televisió de les Illes Balears
With the suport of: Institut d’Estudis Balearics, Consell de Mallorca and Mallorca Film Commission
International sales: Dogwoof
Director: Miguel Eek
Script: Miguel Eek y Aina Calleja Cortés
Production: Marta Castells, Virginia Galán y Miguel Eek
Director of photography: Jordi Carrasco
Editing: Aina Calleja Cortés
Sound: Carlos Novoa
Sound design: Rubén Pérez
Sound mixer: Sergio Testón