Award-winning writer Josefina Lopez screened her 2002 film, “Real Women Have Curves,” Tuesday evening at the Spurlock Museum. About 20 students and faculty members gathered for the first event of Lopez’s artist-in-residence stay on campus.
The department of Latina and Latino studies hosted the event with a number of other co-sponsors.
Isabel Molina, associate professor of Latina/Latino studies, introduced Lopez as “one of the top contemporary Chicana playwrights of today.”
She said Lopez grew up as an undocumented youth in east Los Angeles and transformed her experiences into award-winning films. “Real Women Have Curves” was produced in 2002 and has won her the Audience Award and Special Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival.
The film was based on Lopez when she was 18 years old and working in a sewing factory with her mother and sister, while preparing to graduate high school and transition to college. She attended a high school for the arts and wanted to be an actress but faced many hurdles because of her race and weight.
“There basically were no roles for women who weren’t perfect looking,” she said.
Lopez said the film is “a loose adaptation” of the play of the same name that she also wrote. In her Q-and-A session following the screening, she addressed some of the differences between the film and play.
Lopez said many differences were necessary because of the different storytelling formats, but others were included to create a better story.
“Honestly, the movie’s a little different from my real life story,” she said. “But I wanted to write a story that didn’t have a typical story line and had a protagonist who had some girth, and not just in terms of weight but in terms of self-substance.”
Many students were curious about Lopez’s adaptation of the play while trying to remain truthful.
“I thought it was interesting how she (altered the film from) an authentic experience,” said Jonathon Madura, senior in LAS. “It was quite a bit different.”
Lopez said she wanted to create a movie that showed the beauty of her home while she grew up. She said most movies set in her neighborhood show gang violence, so she and the production team made an effort to change that norm.
“We went out of our way — the director, the cinematographer and everyone — to say, ‘You know what? Why don’t we show this neighborhood in a way that has never been shown before, the way that Josefina would see her neighborhood,’ as beautiful and colorful and wonderful,” she said. “I swear to you; when I was growing up, I did not know that my neighborhood was the gang mecca of the world. I did not know because that was not my reality.”