This film is for all of us
It took me six months of endless conversations with my partner before deciding to make a film about Zoilamérica. It was not an easy decision. Her story is one of the most sensitive issues facing her adoptive father, Daniel Ortega, the president of Nicaragua and and her mother, Rosario Murillo the vice president.
For most of the Nicaraguan media, Zoilamérica’s story is one the biggest political scandals of the last few decades. For me, however, it is also the story of hundreds of women who dare to speak up to demand justice and, in turn, are punished, silenced or ignored by their families, their church or their party. For this reason, I decided to tell her story from her point of view, to show how the public aspects of the conflict with her family affects her personal life.
As I filmed, it was evident that Zoilamérica’s pain became more intense as she spoke of her mother’s attempt not only to hide the abuse, but to turn the blame on her, something not uncommon in Nicaraguan society. This is the tragedy of the silence surrounding sexual abuse: it destroys the family. In Nicaragua sexual abuse is an epidemic spread by silence and impunity.
While I was completing post-production on the film, Nicaragua was rocked by the worst political and humanitarian crisis of the last thirty years. Thousands of Nicaraguan demanded the resignation of Ortega and Murillo and the government response was brutal. In 4 months, over 350 people died and tens of thousand of Nicaraguans were forced into exile, including me.
I hope this film will shed light on the role of family in cases of sexual abuse. It is a tribute to women who, despite profound pain, show tremendous resilience and determination as they fight to recover their lives and their families. This film also changed me. After my conversations with Zoilamérica, I finally told my mother that as a kid I was sexually abused by a neighbor.
This film is for all of us.