SLUM VIRGIN/LA VIRGEN CABEZA: MATAR AL DRAGON's Jimena Monteoliva to Adapt Argentine Novel
Good news out of Buenos Aires yesterday. Variety reported that my friend, Jimena Monteoliva, director of thriller-horror Clementina and dark fantasy Matar al dragon, will adapt the novel La Virgen Cabeza (Slum Virgin) from local author Gabriela Cabezón Cámara. She will direct the adaptation and produce the film under her Crudo Films banner with co-head Florencia Franco.
Narrated largely by a journalist, Qüity, “La Virgen Cabeza” – Slum Virgin in English – is set in the El Poso shanty slum of Buenos Aires, where a transvestite prostitute, Cleo, begins to hear divine messages whispered to her via a cement Virgen Mary statuette. The figure instructs her, promising to alter the community’s fortunes for the better. A miraculously cleaned up El Poso is, however, destroyed by the police who move in with bulldozers, massacring much of its population.“Ever since I read the book I haven’t been able to get it out of my head!” Monteoliva told Variety.Told in a blend of slum slang and Spanglish with references to the reggaetón of Cabezón Cámara, later co-founder of Latin America’s massive NiUnaMenos movement against gender violence, the novel “La Virgen Cabeza” was hailed as a virtuoso debut championing the marginalized and sexual diversity.“This is a major project that involves everything we seek at Crudo: Stories told from the side of dissidence, portraying other realities than those we’re accustomed to see in cinema,” said Monteoliva, who spoke Monday on a Ventana Sur panel, Sangre Latina: Fantastic Women.
La Virgen Cabeza (Slum Virgin) will mark a bit of a departure for Monteoliva, whose previous films and current film on hiatus- Bienvenidos al infierno (Welcome to Hell), a story about a pregnant girl running away from a satanic metal band- lean heavily into fantastic cinema genres.
Slum Virgin still leans into thriller territory but more importantly it still lies within my friend's modus operandi: representing women and margenalized peoples. I quickly got a sense of how much my friend loved this book when we msg'd briefly this morning so I am confident that this adaptation is in the right hands.
Slum Virgin is available in an English translation in paperback from Charco Press and in eBook formats.