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Venezuela: Catholic universities ban transgender film, filmmakers say

24 March 2017
The production crew of film ‘Tamara’ in a public statement reported that Catholic University Andrés Bello (UCAB) and Catholic University Santa Rosa (UCSAR) refused to screen their film as they considered it a piece of “transsexual propaganda”
Photo: Section of ‘Tamara’ film poster/Venezuelan Film Festival VEFF Facebook

 

The production crew of film ‘Tamara’ in a public statement reported that Catholic University Andrés Bello (UCAB) and Catholic University Santa Rosa (UCSAR) refused to screen their film as they considered it a piece of “transsexual propaganda”, reported Venezuelan newspaper 2001 on 6 March 2017.  

The film is inspired by the life of Tamara Adrián, a notorious LGTB activist and first transgender representative of the National Congress.

‘Tamara’ director and writer Elia Schneider said: “the sectarian attitudes of hidden censorship of some Venezuelan universities damage the freedoms of research and creation, which are the fundamental principles that created the universities in the first place”.

Luis Fernández, the actor who played the role of Tamara Adrián in the film, told the newspaper that he “preferred to participate in the creation of propaganda in favor of the transsexual community, and not in favor of the Catholic Church”, because, from his point of view, the first group has dignity where the second one lacks.

Schneider explained on several occasions that the film is not a biopic, because despite being partially inspired by the life of Tamara Adrián it was also inspired by the lives of other transgender people from Venezuela, the United States, Latin America and Europe, whom Schneider interviewed explicitly for her film.


UCAB denies ban
On 8 March 2017, UCAB issued a press released denying any attempt of censoring the film. The university stated that it “didn’t receive any formal request to screen the movie for any academic activity inside the institution”.

The university further stressed that the film was partially “filmed inside the university, without any restrictions or impositions that attempted to limit the freedom of speech or the artistic freedom of the filmmakers; and that the university offered all the permissions and the support required by the film crew in order to film without any delay”.

‘Tamara’ producer Dulce María Ramos said the idea for screening the film came from UCAB students, but the ban came directly from the teachers.

Meanwhile, the dean of UCSAR denied having any knowledge of the case and promised media he would come back with more information, which never came.


Victims of online threats
On 4 November 2016, prior to the film’s release, ‘Tamara’s production crew told newspaper El Nacional they were the target of online harassment by religious groups.

According to Schneider, some Venezuelan religious groups published the contact information of the crew online, who then began receiving online threats and attacks for working within the topic of transsexuality.


Being LGTB in Venezuela
In Venezuela, sexual minorities are often highly exposed to violence and discrimination. Between May 2013 and May 2015, 47 hate crimes were reported in Venezuela against people who express themselves in a way that is outside the norm, but even these figures give a blurred vision of reality.

Activists and advocates for persons belonging to these groups are concerned that the vast majority of such crimes go unpunished, not only because of the inefficiency of institutions, but also because victims are afraid to speak up.

‘Tamara’ was shoot three years ago, but was recently released in November 2016 due to different incidents that obstructed its screening, such as the Venezuelan economic crisis and the government’s decision of reducing the hours of electrical service for shopping malls.

The delay on its premiere date and the notoriety of Tamara Adrián increased the expectations of Venezuelan audiences. With nearly 27,000 viewers, ‘Tamara’ was the most popular national film in Venezuela in 2016.

Sources

Sources

» El Nacional – 8 March 2017
UCAB deny censorship on film

» Daily 2001 – 8 March 2017
UCAB’s official press release on the alleged prohibition of Tamara

» El Impulso – 6 March 2017
Two catholic universities censor Tamara’s screening

» ACN – 6 March 2017
Screening of Tamara censored in universities in Caracas

» Luis Fernandez’s Twitter Account – 6 March 2017
Those little priests and their things…

» Segundo Enfoque – 6 March 2017
Tamara censored in two Venezuelan universities

» Daily 2001 – 3 March 2017
Tamara banned from universities

» Arts freedom – 20 January 2017
Venezuela: Judge issues nationwide ban on a film about boxer

» El Nuevo Herald – 24 December 2016
Tamara: a Venezuelan movie that confronts prejudices against the transgender community

» El Nacional – 4 November 2016
Filmmakers denounce attacks against the film Tamara

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