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The Heiresses

Courtesy of 1844 Entertainment
Image courtesy of 1844 Entertainment

Chela (Ana Brun) and Chiquita (Margarita Irun) are heiresses living in Asunción, Paraguay. Over the course of their 30+ year relationship, they’ve enjoyed the comforts of wealth. But lately they’ve fallen on hard times and are forced to sell their antiques in order to pay the bills. Chiquita manages the finances while Chela mostly keeps to her daily rituals and her painting. It’s obvious that Chiquita dotes on Chela and Chela in return depends on Chiquita. Unfortunately when the bills stack up, Chiquita is convicted of fraud and sentenced to a month in jail leaving Chiquita mostly on her own (Chiquita hires a maid to look after Chela). While Chiquita is in jail, Chela begins to drive again and starts a side gig as a freelance taxi driver for the wealthy older women in her social circle. One of her new customers Angy (Ana Ivanova), is a gorgeous younger woman, provocative and sexy, who befriends Chela. Angy refers to Chela as “Poupee” and shares steamy tales of her sexual exploits. Their friendship awakens something in Chela that’s long been dormant.

The Heiresses is a quiet and spare lesbian drama. It will resonate with anyone who has settled into their ways and suddenly finds themselves having to reinvent their life. The protagonists are older women and the film doesn’t shy away from showing them as sexual and emotional beings. The story serves as a glimpse into the life of the Paraguayan bourgeoisie but also showcases some of the absurdity that comes with the lifestyles lived by the wealthy elite. For example, even though Chiquita going to jail for fraud and Chela must sell off some of her valuables to make ends meet, they still hire a maid they really can’t afford. On the flip side, Chela is incredibly proud and won’t accept handouts, even when Angy offers to give her a pair of sunglasses. We see Chela find some independence in her new job. She’s out and about, socializing and earning her own keep.

“I am interested in the everyday life that occurs outside these areas of power, even within the ruling class. And it was irrelevant to place The Heiresses at a specific moment in our political history because the feeling of living in a giant prison remains the same. And this is essentially a film about confinements.”

Director Marcelo Martinessi

The film was written, produced and directed by Marcelo Martinessi, a Paraguayan filmmaker, and is his full length feature debut. Martinessi was inspired to tell a story about income inequality in his country. In an interview Martinessi said, “Paraguay is one of the most unequal countries in the world, and these women belong to that protected / privileged elite that has its roof and food secured. But the story unfolds as they begin to lose those assurances and cannot find a way to adapt to a new reality.” This is a female-centric story with a distinct absence of men. Martinessi said, “I grew up in a world shaped by women: mother, sisters, grandmothers, aunts, ladies in the neighborhood. I wanted my first feature to get into that female universe that interests me…” Would it have been a different story, a different movie had it been written and directed by a woman? Of course. However, Martinessi allows his female characters and his female actresses their time to shine and it never felt like it was weighted by a male gaze or POV.

The Heiresses was released by 1844 Entertainment and is available today on VOD (iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, FandangoNow and Vudu).