Bad Hair
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Pelo Malo

Venezuelan writer/director Mariana Rondón’s Bad Hair is a charmingly funny, socially-conscious, and bittersweet coming-of-age story about Junior, a 9-year-old boy living in the housing projects of Caracas who is caught in a storm of identity and intolerance, and wants nothing more than to straighten the curls on the top of his head. Spurned by his mother for a desire bordering on obsession, Junior seeks to find acceptance, and straight hair, in the company of his caring grandmother.

Pelo Malo, de la escritora y directora venezolana Mariana Rondón, es una historia divertida, agridulce y socialmente conciente sobre Junior, un niño de 9 años que vive en un barrio de viviendas sociales de Caracas. Junior se encuentra en medio de una tormenta de identidad e intolerancia, y no hay nada que desee más que alisar los rulos de su cabeza. Rechazado por su madre por ese deseo al borde de la obsesión, Junior trata de encontrar aceptación y cabello liso en la compañía de su cariñosa abuela.

Director's Statement

One of the first images that came to me for this movie was a large multi family building and the thousands of stories that take place behind those walls: heat, nudity, precariousness, fragility, sensuality, sex, violence, family, mother, child. The little, intimate stories I imagined grew more complex and so my characters were born.

They are helpless characters. Wounded and hurtful adults, and children who are learning how to hurt. Marta, the mother, focused on survival, teaches her son Junior to survive just like her, without resources, without freedom. But Junior is different, he fights with everything he’s got for his desire: to straighten his hair and to dress as a singer for a picture he wants to give his mother: a picture that would show him as he wishes to be seen.

Junior is going through a difficult initiation in life, marked by his mother’s intolerance, who constantly nags him, convinced of his sexual ambiguity. Junior doesn’t understand her anger, however, he tries to set her at ease, even by giving up on his desire.

Caracas is also hostile to them, a city of urban, political and family violence. Dreams encapsulated in multi-family buildings- the result of Le Corbusier’s “Utopian city” project in the 50s- now turned into massive vertical hells. My characters live surrounded by references that fail to include them. The walls are now a canvas for representations of power, ideological statements; an iconography that feeds them on political messianism and beauty pageants. Empty models that end up bringing them back to their hopelessness.