MANUELA is an only child of wealthy, devoted and well-meaning parents who are part of Colombia’s high-society. She has an ambitious boyfriend and her best friend ADRIANA to confide in. Despite appearances, Manuela’s perfect smile is as superficial as the lifestyle for which she has been groomed. A secret love for Adriana boils inside of her and as the film progresses; the façade of her pristine life begins to crumble. The news of her unexpected pregnancy sets her on a collision course with her deepest desire and a society that keeps her in a mold she desperately wants to escape. When she finally begins to rebel against the social confinement of her elite upbringing, Manuela clashes against her family’s expectations for her future trajectory.
Las Malas Lenguas is a Colombian film that breaks the silence about abortion and homosexuality in one of Latin America's most conservative societies. It gives unprecedented access into the world of Colombia's elite and through Manuela's journey it offers a glimpse of the maddening atmosphere created when modernity and wealth coexist with third world problems and sensibilities.
Directors: Juan Paulo Laserna
Writers: Juan Paulo Laserna, Juan Camilo Brigard
Producers: Maja Zimmermann, Juan Paulo
Laserna Key cast: Sara Montoya, Matilde de los Milagros Londoño, Pedro Mejia
Director: Juan Paulo Laserna
Born in 1989 in Bogota, Juan Paulo moved to China, at 18 to pursue mandarin studies at Beijing Language and Culture University. In Amsterdam he studied International Business Administration and eventually moved to the NY to study film directing at the School of Visual Arts. Juan Paulo graduated with honors and won multiple DUSTY awards (best editing, directing and best film) for his thesis film. He then returned to his native Bogota to direct and produce his feature debut, LAS MALAS LENGUAS.
Las Malas Lenguas (2015)
Written, Directed, Produced
The Darkness Under the Sun (2012)
Last Stop (2012)
I believe that film more than any other art form has the power to challenge and change the way people think about life as well as about each other. We reference movies on a daily basis and many significant scenes, dialogues and performances have been woven into our cultural fabric for the last 100 years. It is why I think movies have a responsibility to speak out to the public about the disenfranchised, the repressed and the abandoned to give them a voice, as the power of film can change and improve the world.
The story of Las Malas Lenguas, I felt had to be told to shed light onto the lives of many young people current struggling in Colombia. Above all, I want to emphasize that we as individuals, straight or gay, male or female, so often have to cope with the expectations of a traditional society in detriment of our own dreams and aspirations. Colombian people are deeply religious and so homosexuality and abortion are seen as major moral issues that have to be stopped, denied or better ‘cured’. Even though this doesn’t happen in an aggressive way as in more conservative societies like Iran and Russia, but it happens through remarks and judgmental looks, by ostracizing people in their most intimate environments, where one expects to find love and respect.
I was fascinated and profoundly intrigued by the question: Why would a young girl from a well off family jumps off a rooftop, with apparently everything provided to succeed? The fact that despair and misery exist within such comfort is as interesting to me, as when happiness unexpectedly blossom within desolation. For me, these choices make a character truly compelling and exploring such a protagonist’s path through her challenges of life, is something worth watching on the screen. In my opinion, these are not ‘good’ or ‘bad’ guys, but individuals who struggles, face challenges and show a personal perspective, and I love and believe in flawed, three-dimensional characters as the true cinematic representation of ourselves.
My intention of the movie is not to judge Manuela or the family and society she lives in, but rather to reflect on how we live our lives and how we influence others to live their own. It’s an invitation to examine the moments when we become our own worst enemy and the consequences we face when denying the right to live an authentic life. Las Malas Lenguas explores the dilemma many are facing: do we repress our true desire to conform and fit in as slaves of our environment, or do we stand up and risk everything for a chance to grown into all we could become?