Torera de unicornios: a Biography of Inés París Bouza
By Erin K. Hogan, University of Maryland Baltimore County
Malaga Film Festival 2016
Filmmaker Inés París Bouza was born in Valencia in 1962 to a family with a rich intellectual tradition. Her maternal grandmother’s family was from Cortegada, a town located along the Miño River in Galicia where the family still maintains the home library of her grandfather Fermín Bouza Brey (París 2019). He was a judge, poet, archaeologist, historian and an important figure in Galician culture and nationalism whose influence led Inés to write a screenplay about Rosalía de Castro (ibid). Her maternal grandmother Emília Álvarez Álvarez had studied at the University of Santiago de Compostela and was a pharmacist at the turn of the century (París 2015, 303). Inés’ parents were, as she calls them, “progres” (París 2015, 303) or “leftist intellectuals” (Féjerman and París 2003, 101; translation mine). Her father Carlos París (1925-2014) was a philosopher, professor, and feminist who had risen to President of the cultural institution Ateneo of Madrid (1977-2001) and again held this position (2009-2014) at the time of his death in his late eighties. Carlos París, of Basque origin, and Emilia Bouza, of Galician origin, married at the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, Galicia. Carlos París Amador was Spain’s youngest professor of philosophy and later faculty member and founder of the Philosophy department at the Autonomous University of Madrid (Menor 2014; Falcón). Emilia Bouza, also a teacher (París 2007, 65) who completed university studies then led a large company (ibid: 303), was killed in Zaragoza in the 1979 Hotel Corona de Aragón fire attributed to the terrorist group ETA (Falcón). Her death would impress upon Inés the importance of memory, as María Camí-Vela has noted (2005, 365). Inés’ parents imparted very important life lessons that she has shared in her texts, such as “Una mañana para volar.” When, as a child in 1973, Inés told her mother that she would be a flight attendant when she grew up, her mother responded: “you’ll be a pilot” (París 2015, 303, translation mine). Her well-educated parents taught her a number of lessons, that (1) she could do anything she set her mind to, (2) that in order to achieve her goals she would not only have to face her own limitations but also an obstructive, patriarchal, traditional, and repressive mentality, and (3) that the most powerful weapon that her detractors would use against her would be to negate the second lesson (París 2015, 304).
Inés París began her work in the performing arts as an actress before collaborating in screenwriting and directing and more recently creating on her own. She studied philosophy and acting in tandem (París 2013, 107). París advances in her abbreviated professional autobiography, “Una carrera de obstáculos sin señalizar” (2013), that her trajectory in filmmaking is not unlike that of other women in Spain who lack role models, suffer sexual harassment, and disproportionately struggle with balancing career and relationships. As an actress in the role of drug addict, the film director attempted to intoxicate and sleep with her. She rebuffed him and he humiliated her in filming the next day. Carlos París found his daughter’s part to be surprising, the philosopher expected a more classical role in accordance with Inés’ studies, and Inés then decided to go into directing. While interning for the renowned theater director Miguel Narros, Inés became his “right or left hand, the one hidden behind one’s back” (París 2013, 109, translation mine) until she learned to recognize and value her own talents. París began writing for television but was uncredited for her creative work until this exploitation became apparent to a third party. She reports having learned that typically “feminine” qualities, like generosity, humility, self-sacrifice, and diligence, are the antithesis of the typically masculine “genius,” and that becoming a writer requires believing in oneself (ibid, 111). Her personal life, at times, came into conflict with her professional life. Inés confesses that the first time she quit a job, and that she would never do it again, was on account of a boyfriend who was impatient with her demanding hours as a stage hand. Another time, caring for her now ex’s children complicated her work days (ibid, 112). Inés París would bet that most male filmmakers do not face the same demands to simultaneously direct and parent (ibid, 113).
Inés París began screenwriting for television and co-wrote films as a team with Daniela Féjerman. Together, they co-wrote and co-directed My Mother Likes Women (2002) and Semen, a Love Sample (2005). Inés París has since made two feature length fiction films, with and without writing partners, and documentaries related to her work with the Foundation of Women for Africa (Fundación Mujeres por África) and to women in male-dominated professions in Spain. Her films have won festival awards and earned Goya nominations. París’ cinema often explores mothers, queer and reconstituted families, and comedy. The Night My Mother Killed My Father (2016) she directed solo and co-wrote with Fernando Colomo and it can be read as an extension of París’ advocacy for women in the audiovisual industry which began officially when she co-founded (2006) and became president (2006-12) of CIMA (Asociación de mujeres cineastas y de medios audiovisuales). In her writings for CIMA, she has made visible the “invisible hand” of gender discrimination in Spanish filmmaking (París 2015, 307). She has alluded to actor-director José Sacristán’s simile that making films in Spain is like bullfighting in Iceland (2010, 349) and gendered it, whereby making films as a woman in Spain is like bullfighting a unicorn. Her most recent film, The Night My Mother Killed My Father, dedicated to Carlos París, is a narrative reworking of her CIMA advocacy with autobiographical elements. In 2017, París made history as the first woman to lead the General Society of Authors and Editors (SGAE), which protects authors’ and artists’ intellectual property. She has continued to write and direct for television.
Feature Films - Written & Directed
Miguel y William (2007, with Tirso Calero, Eva Cruz and Miguel Ángel Gomez co-writers)
La noche que mi madre mató a mi padre (The Night That My Mother Killed my Mother) (2016), with Fernando Colomo as co-writer; won the Audience Award for Best Film at the Málaga Film Festival)
Semen, una historia de amor (Semen, a Love Sample) (2005, with Daniela Féjerman director and co-writer)
A mí madre le gustan las mujeres/My Mother Likes Women (2002, with Daniela Féjerman, Goya-nominated)
Feature Films - Directed
Manzanas, pollos y quimeras (2013)
Ellas son África (2010, a four episode documentary directed by París that includes the episode she filmed: “La radio de Batuma”)
Feature Films - Written
Rivales (2008, Joaquin Oristrell co-writer)
La mirada Violeta (2004, Daniela Fejérman, Cayetana Guillén, Nacho Pérez de la Paz and Jesus Ruiz co-writers)
Sé quién eres/I Know Who You Are (2000, Patricia Ferreira, Daniela Féjerman, Manuel Gutiérrez Aragón and Enrique Jiménez co-writers)
Vamos a dejarlo (1999, Daniela Fejérman co-writer)
A mí quién me manda meterme en esto (1997, Daniela Fejérman co-writer)
El accidente (2018, created with Daniel Écija, 13 episodes written)
Aquí Paz y después Gloria (2015, 8 episodes written)
Igual-es (2011, a nine episode documentary series for RTVE written and directed by París)
Maitena: Estados alterados (2008-2010, 39 episodes written)
El pantano (2003, 6 episodes written)
El comisario (1999-2009, 1 episode written)
Todos los hombres sois iguales (1997-1998, 9 episodes written)
Mar de dudas (1995, 6 episodes written)
Menos lobos (1992-1993, 2 episodes written)
Una hija más (1991, 1 episode written)
Semen, una historia de amor (2005, as Natalia)
Mientras haya luz (1987, as Nurse)
Buscando a Perico (1982, as Blanca)
Anon. 2018. “Homenaje a Inés París.” Festival de cine de Madrid. October 11-23. Accessed October 25, 2018. http://festivalcinemadrid.es/paralelas-2018/homenaje-a-ines-paris/
Camí-Vela, María. 2005. “Inés París y Daniela Féjerman.” In Mujeres detrás de la cámara: entrevistas con cineastas españolas 1990-2004. Madrid: Ocho y medio, 363-78.
Falcón O’Neill, Lidia. “Biografía Carlos París.” Accessed September 25, 2018. http://www.lidiafalcon.com/carlos-paris/biografia-carlos-paris/
Féjerman, Daniela, and Inés París. 2003. “Las madres de ‘A mi madre...’: historia de una maternidad compartida.’ Duoda: revista d'estudis feministes 24: 99-105.
Menor, Manuel. 2014. “Despedida muy sentida al filósofo Carlos París en el Ateneo de Madrid.” Mundiario. February 4. Accessed September 25, 2018.
París, Inés. 2007. “La novela que me gustaría dirigir.” Cuadernos hispanoamericanos. 680: 63-72.
___. 2010. “La reivindicación de las cineastas.” In Cine y género en España. Una investigación empírica, edited by Fátima Arranz, 349-382. Madrid: Ediciones Cátedra.
___. 2013. “La realización cinematográfica. Una carrera de obstáculos sin señalizar: (cómo funciona la discriminación de las mujeres en la industria cinematográfica).” In Gynocine teoría de género, filmología y praxis cinematográfica, edited by Barbara Zecchi, 103-118. Zaragoza: Prensas universitarias de Zaragoza.
___. 2015. “Epílogo: Una mañana para volar.” In Construyendo una mirada propia: mujeres directoras en el cine español: de los orígenes al año 2000, edited by Francisco A Zurian and Barbara Zecchi, 303-11. Madrid: Editorial Síntesis.
___. 2019. Personal Email Communication to Erin K. Hogan and Barbara Zecchi. February 4.
Zecchi, Barbara. 2014. “Inés París: la subversión de la risa.” In Desenfocadas: cineastas españolas y discursos de género. Barcelona: Icaria Editorial, 201-8.