Text by Asier Gil Vázquez (2016)
Translated by Gina Malagold
Luna (1972), is a pseudonym that María Lidón Ibáñez deploys to differentiate her phase as a director from her phase as an actress. Born and raised in Valencia, she abandoned her Psychology studies and moved to the United States, where she began to work as an actress in commercials. With the help of the producer José Magán, she was able to jump to directing feature films, without passing through any schools or film academies. My guns, her first feature film, is a police thriller where three histories cross surrounding the mafia, drugs, Russian roulette, however, it never premiered.
In 2001 Stranded (Náufragos) premiered, a science fiction film about an accidental first trip to Mars. However, it moves away from the conventions of gender and abuse to space effects to tell the story about human relations, survival and the possibility to habit the uninhabitable. With a budget greater than four million dollars, Luna takes off on a transnational project in English and with international distribution, with actors María de Medeiros, Joaquim de Almeida, Vincent Gallo, Danel Aser and María Lidón, her character who takes on the lead protagonist in the story and opens a space within the structure traditionally androcentric of her gender. The interior of the spaceship is filmed in the studios of Panavision in Los Angeles and the exterior in Lanzarote. It should be noted that the film counted on the advising of Pedro Duque and the photography of Ricardo Aronovich, who have worked with Resnais, Malle, Scola or Costa-Gravas, and have remained constant collaborators with Luna. Stranded (Náufragos) was presented in a variety of festivals, such as the 49th edition of the International Film Festival of San Sebastián and the Fantafestival, a Fantastic film festival in Rome, where it won the silver Méliès for the best European science fiction film.
In some of the interviews that took place during the promotion of the film, Luna mentions a preproduction project under the title Guerrero. The adventure is based on the life of Gonzalo Guerrero, a controversial character from the conquest of América. This history of epic adventures aims to recover the castaway figure, already present in the debut, and move it to the Mexican coasts to delve into the integration of Spanish culture into the Mayan culture. Nevertheless, this film is never made and is not mentioned in any following interviews.
In 2004 she adapts Isabel Pisano’s essay, Yo, puta. Hablan las prostitutas (2001), with a script written by Pisano herself and Luna’s sister, Adela Ibáñez. This docu-fiction about the sex industry is released under the title Yo, puta (Whore) and combines the use of testimony with a tale of fiction, with the protagonists Daryl Hannah and Denise Richards. This resource induces the spectator to a pact of ambiguous reading where the boundaries of real and fiction are confused, that allows a distance from the typical approach to one of the most controversial themes within feminismo. With a budget of six million dollars, it is released in Spain, the United States, Hungary, Czech Republic, and Cuba. The film roll is distributed in more than seventy countries and participated in festivals such as the Tribeca of New York.
In 2006 Moscow Zero is released, a thriller written again by her sister about a hidden civilization that exists in the underground tunnels of Moscow. This film has qualities similar to Stranded (Náufragos) and presumably Guerrero. The adventure, proposes the possibility to return to spaces that are on the margins of habitable, and fathom the fear of otherness as an element of the human condition. In this case Luna adapts a masculine vision reminiscent of the canonical narrations of thriller, with a feminine character who functions merely as a trophy. This movie had a budget of ten million dollars and a cast of veteran collaborators, such as Gallo and Almeida, and incorporate Val Kilmer, Oksana Akinshina and Sage Stallone. The film was presented in the 39th edition of the International Festival of Fantastic Film of Catalunya: Sitges.
Luna is a clear example of the lack of visibility that numerous women filmmakers become victim to, submerged in an industry and society below a discourse of an apparent equality of rights that perpetuates inequalities of opportunity. However, the unanimous lack of attention that her work has received in the general press and especially, in academia, seems to be the result of various factors. To begin-and without pretending to force an interpretation that relates the work of the author with her experiences, the lost planet, the marginal world or prostitutes or the underground of the great urban center share a character of no (wo)man’s land in which Luna has had to unwind herself. To push oneself in genres such as thriller or science fiction- spaces culturally constructed by and for men-and assume the male gaze, such as what occurs in Moscow Zero, they are placed in a position of the frontier within the binary debate of women’s film vs. men’s film. Second, the opening of the international market with commercial ends, such as the remoteness of some means of Spanish representation, relegate Luna’s films in a problematic position for the defenders of national culture-cinema, just as Camí-Vela argues (2010, pp.54-55) in her analysis about directors who film in English. More than the discrimination of gender and the difficulty to place her films in a specific concrete geography, it fits to summarize the warm critiques and public response of her three films. The articulation of these factors may help us to understand the premature forgetfulness in that, today, Luna seems to have remained, who after the release of Moscow Zero she has focused on the direction of musical video clips, and above all, publicity.
Camí-Vela, M. (2010): «Cineastas españolas que filman en inglés. ¿Estrategia comercial o expresión multicultural?», en Rodríguez Pérez, María Pilar (ed.), Estudios culturales y de los medios de comunicación, Bilbao: Universidad de Deuesto, 53-70.
To cite this bio-filmography please use the following reference: Gil Vázquez, Asier (2016): «Bio-filmography of Luna (María Lidón)», translated by Gina Malagold, Gynocine Project, Barbara Zecchi, ed.