Jimena Franco, a woman of transgender experience, was awarded best actress Saturday at the Festival Internacional de Cine de Guayaquil 2017 (Guayaquil International Film Festival 2017) for her role as Veronica in “Hug Me as before”.
“Abrázame como antes” (Hug Me as before), by Costa Rican filmmaker Jurgen Ureña is a story about Veronica, a transgender woman who works as a prostitute in the streets of San Jose. One night, the vehicle in which she is riding in with clients hits an enigmatic teenager known as Tato. Impulsively, Veronica decides to take the boy to her apartment, where she offers him shelter and food.
In the middle of a nocturnal atmosphere populated by amorous encounters, music and rivalries, between both a relationship of great complexity begins to arise.
On the award given to Franco, director Jurgen Ureña told La Nación: “I met Jimena Franco at the beginning of 2010. At that time she was one of the trans women who participated in an acting workshop that I organized with the purpose of finding actresses and stories for the shooting As the months went by, after a disciplined and enthusiastic process, Jimena became the protagonist of Abrázame como antes .
“I think that these two qualities together, discipline and enthusiasm, have allowed Jimena to break through in the midst of a particularly adverse reality and have turned her into an actress who is able to move between very diverse dramatic records,” added the filmmaker.
This is the first time at Costa Rican actress has won an award at the Guayaquil Film Festival. The award ceremony was held on Saturday night at the Simón Bolívar Auditorium of the Anthropological Museum of Contemporary Art (MAAC).
Amazingly Jimena Franco’s life has many parallels to the movie. She was thrown out of her house as a teen after coming out as trans and was forced to live the “dark and horrendous” profession as a streetwalker.
“They say that transgender people are whores, that we steal, that we are alcoholics, but what we really want is to study and get ahead,” says Costa Rican Jimena Franco.
“And what are missing are opportunities,” she insists, as did the rest of the women interviewed by the BBC for an article about 6 successful transgender women who break molds in Latin America. ” Today, prostitution is the only thing a transgender woman has to survive in Costa Rica,” she said.
Central American countries have the highest per-capita murder rate where the average lifespan for trans people is only 35 years.
At 16 Franco, founded “Comparsa Nacional Latin Stars”, a dance group that performs at special occasions. But all too often she is relegated to driving the minibus because the venues don’t want her performing.
“When we go to birthdays, graduations and private events, contracts often say that transvestites, fat or women with little clothes are not accepted,” she explains.
“So I abstain from dancing and I dedicate myself to be the driver of the minibus”.
“I want to be an actress, not a trans actress, Jimena Franco, an actress, ” she stresses.