Eva’s being allowed to leave the psychiatric institution she’s lived in for six years. Now she just has to wait until an assisted living residence frees up. Cigarettes and a few conversations help time pass, but are not enough. After a long year of waiting, the news arrive: a place is found for her.
Eva takes the first steps towards the “normal” life she longs for: to find a job, earn an income of her own, visit her mother… even find love. While she’s taking stock of her past and works on her self-confidence as well as her trust in the outside world, she also fixes firmly on her main goal: to reconnect with the son she lost custody of 20 years ago and ask him to forgive her.
The First Woman is a film about second chances, the search for “normality” and the 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.
Three 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
Runtime: 76 min
Screening format: DCP, ProRes422, H264
Original language: Spanish
Filming locations: Palma, Manacor (Mallorca)
Production year: 2020
Production company: Mosaic
Co-produced by: IB3 Televisió de les Illes Balears
With the support of: Institut d’Estudis Balearics, Consell de Mallorca, Fundació Mallorca Turisme, Mallorca Film Commission
Direction: Miguel Eek
Screenplay: Miguel Eek and Aina Calleja Cortés
Line producter: Marta Castells
Production coordinator: Virginia Galán
Editor: Aina Calleja Cortés
Cinematographer: Jordi Carrasco
Color: Tano Martín
Sound recordist: Carlos Novoa
Sound design and editing: Rubén Pérez
Sound mixing: Sergio Testón