In a humid Buenos Aires, teenager Camila (Nina Dziembrowski) must navigate a new city and a new school. Following the declining health of her grandmother, she moves with her mother and sister to their grandmother’s house in the city. Enrolled in a Catholic school where political ideologies of any kind are not tolerated and with bizarre religious graduation ceremonies, Camila tries to find her community in an establishment where the overarching feeling is of uniformity and socio-political ringfencing.
On the surface it may seem that CAMILA COMES OUT TONIGHT isn’t treading any new ground, but in fact director Inés María Barrionuevo offers audiences a different interpretation to the typical queer coming-of-age narrative in her third feature film. Whilst Camila’s queerness is explored in the film, it’s not her defining character trait. The narrative offers a broader more substantial take on Camila’s character, seen through Camila’s eyes we discover the ways in which queerness can cross boundaries, and how a new generation are standing up for their rights and working to squash misogyny and outdated traditionalism.
Camila struggles initially in her new surroundings, the opposite of her liberal upbringing, until she finds kindred spirits among her classmates and where Camila’s connection with her sexuality and openness around her desires is polarized by other more conservative takes, specifically after sexual encounters with her friends Bruno (Diego Sanchéz) and Clara (Maite Valero).
Camila’s relationship with her mother, Victoria (Adriana Ferrer) is where the film really shines. Barrionuevo perfectly captures their dynamic with Victoria seen as supportive and openminded but at a point where Camila can’t yet fully understand the value in it, but following an upsetting incident, she begins to see her mother as a person with needs of her own.
What comes through so powerfully in the film is how helpless people, especially young, underrepresented groups, can feel in their ability to enact change, whether that’s pushing for freedom to make choices about their bodies, standing up to protect their bodies or being able to trust authority figures to help reinforce those boundaries and create safe spaces. And how despite this, there is a wave of new, loud voices that need to be heard and are working hard to make changes.