Between the city and the country, the distinct and subtle modern forms of mental, spiritual and aesthetic slavery unfold. Huge, half-built concrete dwellings rise up, stripping nature of its peace and harmony. A boy plays with the rim of a bike tire and says goodbye to his sister, who disappears down the mountain to wait at the edge of the highway for the pick-up truck that will transport her to the city. The truck’s bed is full of indigenous people who, like Carmen, leave what remains of the countryside to try to make a living in the city. The long and uncomfortable journey is an opportunity for the girl to observe everything as it flies by at great speed while the wind fills her face. Her journey carries her through a study in contrasts: the city, a never-ending row of walls and fences; the commotion of the market where the small farmers sell their products; the colorful ponchos and gray concrete of houses and buildings. The rest of the journey is made on foot, wall after wall, a parade of the city’s homes. Suddenly, the sound of children surrounds her and Carmen peeks into the entrance to a school. There they are, the schoolgirls, lined up and in uniform, responding to the accusatory questions and incessant scolding of the school’s headmistress. The ever-present anthem proclaims “Freedom and nobility, treasure of the pen and the plow.” Once the singing ends, the classes begin, but it is not the walls of the classroom that will absorb Carmen’s footsteps and silence her song. Her destiny lies behind other, more somber walls.

About Gabriela Calvache

At the age of twenty-one, Gabriela Calvache produced her first fiction film titled Alegría de una vez (One-Time Happiness) by the Ecuadorian director Mateo Herrera. Since then, she has continued producing, directing, writing and participating in Ecuadorian and international films, which to date number ten full-length features, both documentary and fiction, and various shorts. She has worked on the following films: Crónicas, El Comité, Alegría de una vez, Jaque, Mientras llega el día, When Clouds Clear, Con mi corazón en Yambo, Impulso and Labranza Oculta. She has wide-ranging experience in film covering areas such as general production, production coordination, director’s assistant, scriptwriting, director of photography, and others. She has worked with prestigious Ecuadorian directors, including Sebastián Cordero, Camilo Luzuriaga, Mateo Herrera, Fernanda Restrepo Arismendi, and others. She has co-produced for the North American directors Danielle Bernstein and Anne Slick. As a film director, she has made five short films that were shown and won prizes in international festivals. Her latest work, Hay cosas que no se dicen (There Are Things That Can’t Be Said), was the first Ecuadorian short film in history to be accepted in the prestigious international film festivals of Mar del Plata, Festival Iberoamericano de Cine de Huesca, Festival de Cine Cinema Jove de Valencia, Festival Iberoamericano de Cine de Guadalajara, and others. This short film allowed her to take part in the International Film Festival of the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, D.C. En Espera (On Hold) is her most recent short fiction film. It earned the Prize for a Short Film Production from the Ecuadorian National Council of Cinetmatography 2007 (Premio de Producción de Cortometraje del Consejo Nacional de Cinematografía de Ecuador 2007).
Gabriela Calvache will make her debut as a director of full-length feature films with the documentary Labranza oculta (The Silent Walls), a film that has required five years of filming. This documentary was one of the twelve projects selected in the Latin Documentary Forum DocBsas, Argentina 2006. As a fiction screenwriter, she has written three feature films: El secreto de Paula (Paula´s Secret), official choice in the Gibara, Cuba Film Festival competition; Como de la familia (Like Part of the Family), postgraduate thesis from the Cinema and Audiovisuals School of Catalunia, Universidad Autónoma de Barcelona; and Impulso (Impulse), official script choice of the New Latinamerican Film Festival, Cuba 2006. In 2009 this film, directed by Mateo Herrera, won the Top Prize (Gran Premio Flechazo) for Best Picture at the prestigious Toulouse Latin American Film Festival in Toulouse, France.
Currently, she is developing the script for Niñas (Girls), which will be her first full-length fiction feature film. Calvache has been invited to participate as a panelist in international film forums at the Chicago Latino Film Festival, at the University of Washington, D.C., at the Organization of American States, and at the Toulouse Latin American Film Festival. In addition, she has contributed to education as a script-writing and production teacher at the following institutions: Universidad San Francisco de Quito, Pontificia Universidad Católica del Ecuador and at the National Film Institute (INCINE).