“No Dress Code
Required”Cristina Herrera Borquez
is a Mexican film director whose first documentary short film “The Minutemen Project” (2006) received recognition for Outstanding Artistic Endeavo” at the 6th International Hispanic Film Festival. In 2013, she opened La Cleta Films and began production on “No Dress Code
Required,” her first feature-length doc. She received the John Schlesinger
Award at the 2017 Palms Springs Film Festival for best first documentary.
“No Dress Code
Required” will premiere at the 2017 Human Rights Watch Film Festival on June 13.
W&H: Describe the film for us in your own words.
Chb: The documentary follows the story of a gay couple, Victor and Fernando, as they journey through the legal process of trying to be the first same-sex couple to get married in the state of Baja California, Mexico, where same-sex marriage is illegal.
It is also a personal love story of two people who want the viewers to recognize their right to live their love publicly.
W&H: What drew you to this story?
Chb: I’ve known Victor and Fernando for years and always knew they wanted to get married. I was approached by a mutual friend who thought it was important to document their legal battle, not knowing really where this would end.
W&H: What do you want people to think about when they are leaving the theater?
Chb: I don’t really care if people have their own opinion on same-sex marriage, but I would love if people leaving the theater could feel empathy and respect towards the rights of others to love whomever they please and not have their right taken away for that reason.
W&H: What was the biggest challenge in making the film?
Chb: Making it
with mainly a one-person crew.
W&H: How did you get your film funded? Share some insights into how you got the film made.
Chb: The yearand a half of shooting was done with no funding. Everything was paid out of my own pocket, although I was searching for funding that whole time. After the shooting was done and I had a first cut of the film, we entered the film in Ficg in La — Doculab.2 Los Angeles in the summer of 2015.
There we won seven of the eight post-production awards and that helped of the post-production of the film. A few months later we were awarded finishing funds from Foprocine, the Fund for Quality in Film Production, from Mexico, and that really helped us finalize the film.
W&H: What does it mean for you to have your film play at the Human Rights Watch Film Festival?
Chb: It is something that we hoped for when I was making the documentary. This type of festival was something that just seemed like a long shot. Now that we are playing at the festival, exposing it to the audience that attends the festival and the venues that it’s playing in New York, it means seeing three years of hard work — and closed doors — pay off.
W&H: What’s the best and worst advice you’ve received?
Chb: The worst advice: “Don’t do it. Don’t do the film unless you have money secured.”
I don’t remember the best advice for this particular project, but I can say the best encouragement came from someone outside the film business — my husband. He always believed this documentary would turn out great and always told me so, even when I couldn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel.
W&H: What advice do you have for other female directors?
Chb: For female directors in my country, Mexico (with a strong Latin Machista culture) I would say, just pick up the camera and do it. We don’t need doors and opportunities to open for us: we are those doors and those opportunities just waiting to happen. Get out
of the assistant spot you’ve been handed and create your own project with or without help.
W&H: Name your favorite woman-directed film and why.
Chb: “Nobody Loves Me
” by Doris Dörrie
. It was one of the first films where I realized there was a female eye and sensitivity behind a project, and I’ve been a fan of her ever since.
W&H: There have been significant conversations over the last couple of years about increasing the amount of opportunities for women directors yet the numbers have not increased. Are you optimistic about the possibilities for change? Share any thoughts you might have on this topic.
Chb: There is a lack of opportunities and I don’t really think that will change fast, at least not in other parts of the world, but I am optimistic that we can create those opportunities ourselves, and if we create those with the help of other women, even better. We just grow stronger when we are together and it makes our projects that much better.
Human Rights Watch Ff 2017 Women Directors: Meet Cristina Herrera Borquez
— “No Dress Code
Required” was originally published in Women and Hollywood on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.