In 1998, Victor Gaviria directed the film “la vendedora de rosas,” which represented the cruel reality of the Colombian youth surviving on the streets of Medellín. The movie was based off the life of Mónica Rodriguez, a young flower vendor who was assassinated before she could take on the titular role.
While the film revolves around the inescapable violence that surrounds each fictional character, it also provides important insight to the construction of identity and relationships in this region. In Antioquia, relationships and identity do not revolve around first names or titles, instead they revolve around nicknames (“apodos”), which serve to create relational ties and connections (“vínculos”).
Notice how characters do not refer to each other by their first names; instead, they use nicknames.
These nicknames range from “malparido” to “mi amor,” depending on the relationship and level of intimacy between two characters. The use of these nicknames serve to illustrate how paisas do not exist as individuals; instead, everyone holds a social role to each other. This contributes to the collectivist society of Colombia today. Take note of the following nicknames that appear throughout “la vendedora de rosas:”
- Malparido/a = this term, typically used as an insult, also appears between friends to show camaraderie and respect.
- Hijueputa = while literally translating to “son of a bitch,” this address term is present between members of the same gang. However, when used outside of this relationship, it serves as an insult, creating relational distance between two individuals.
- Gonorrea = this term is typically reserved for people who do not get along.
- Parcero/parce = using parcero or parce indicates endearment. These nicknames can be used between friends, acquaintances, or even family members. The fact that acquaintances utilize these terms demonstrate the fact that this system exists entirely of relational ties; even if two people are not very “close” (by Western terms), there still exists a sense of unity between them through the use of nicknames like parcero.
- Maricón/puta = typically reserved for enemies.
- Mi peluche/mi amor = these terms demonstrate endearment, and in some cases, a sexual relationship between two individuals. Typically, it is the man who uses the nickname to refer to his female partner.
- Hombre = hombre is used between men to indicate a friendship or partnership.
Nicknames, realistic dialogue, and cultural allusions serve to construct the collectivist reality of Colombia in “la vendedora de rosas,” as explained below:
The reality of Colombia depicted in “la vendedora de rosas” is almost inseparable from the reality of Colombian youth. To demonstrate the parallelism between “las películas” (the movies) and “la vida real” (real life), the documentary “poner a actuar pájaros” was created.
“Poner a actuar pájaros” shows the reality behind the cameras, taking a deep dive into the lives of the childhood stars and where they are now.
The documentary examines where the children ended up 20 years after taking part in the movie.
While there were moments of intimacy, camaraderie, and friendship between the child stars on set…
Life outside the set proved to be shockingly similar to the reality portrayed in the film.
“La vendedora de rosas” and “poner a actuar pájaros” are almost inseparable from each other. As stated by Mónica Rodríguez in her interview below, “Es algo real, no hay mentiras.”