Cristiane Oliveira’s film A Primeira Morte de Joana (Eng. The First Death of Joana, 2021) starts from death. 13-year-old Joana says goodbye to her loved aunt Rosa whose death brings her to in depth reflections on Rosa’s life: why didn’t she ever have a boyfriend?
This reflection leads Joana to explore her own identity, girlhood, and sexuality, and to observe the hidden love life of the women around her. Discrete, delicate and poetic narration gives the viewer a glimpse into the life of a young girl where norms impose what is allowed and what is not.
For boys it is permitted to bully, harass and even use violence, but girls are not allowed to defend themselves, or at least they should not do it “too boyishly”. However, it is comforting to follow the protagonist’s rebellion and friendships, which are far more nuanced than the black and white world around. Often, films deal with sexuality in superficial ways, for example, by showing sex between adults without depth or subtlety. That’s why it is fresh to see young girls discussing masturbation and dealing with love and crushes through a non-heteronormative glance, without underlining it too much.
Ina Mikkola is a Finnish journalist, director, author, presenter and DJ. She is known, among other things, as a journalist in the Ina <3 porn TV-series which explores porn cultures in different countries.