TENEBRIS VULNUS - The Feminist Film About Your Flow That You Should Support
On a completely unremarkable day when I was 11 years old I went clothes shopping with my mother. I was sitting in the department store dressing room in my underwear when my mother looked at me and said “Claire, you’re bleeding! You got your period!” She seemed delighted. I wanted to cry. Maybe it was that I could tell this was the beginning of decades of inconvenience, embarrassment, and often pain or maybe it was a self-fulfilling prophecy that has allowed my period to cause me so much grief. Whatever the case, my period is, and has always been, a curse.
When I first heard the plot for Tenebris Vulnus (Dark Wound in Latin), I felt relief that someone is acknowledging and exploring the sometimes overwhelming experience of bleeding that western medicine has thus far failed to remedy. The main character in Tenebris Vulnus is an orchestra conductor, living in New York, who has her period for months. She is attempting to write her magnum opus but finds herself at a loss. Her creative flow is blocked while her menstrual flow is unending. When western medicine proves inadequate, she turns to her native country, Peru, to find a different kind of help. In the small town of Cocachimba, she seeks out a blood healer and opens herself up to the possibilities found in the Amazonian Highlands.
The star of this film is Roberta Colindrez described as having “punk rock boldness and ultra confidence” which is exactly what my feminist heart looks for in a leading lady. She is an actress and writer who is best known for her involvement in
Girls (2012), Gotham (2014), Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) (2014), and the Amazon original I Love Dick (2016-2017). She has enthralled audiences on the stage, in film, and on TV. The part of Andina Quintana in Tenebris Vulnus was written with Colindrez in mind so we can expect a fierce portrayal.
Writer and Director Anais Blondet is partnering with the local people of Cocachimba, La Mula Producciones, The Peruvian Film Commission, and other artists to create this avant-garde, magical realism docufiction. Blondet’s goal is to create a “participatory artistic collaboration with the Cocachimba townspeople in order to give them the space to inform their own story.” Rarely in mainstream entertainment do we see even an attempt at this sort of authenticity. The film will be available in Spanish, French, and English with a target audience of women across the world. The goal of this film is not to become mainstream but instead to reach women in their communities and spark discussions of something that ties most of us together—blood.
Blondet plans to start filming in Peru this spring. While some of the funding for this film has been secured, her team is crowd funding much of it to ensure her creative vision is preserved. We all know that funding wields an incredible amount of power in entertainment. Projects that are not exclusively dependent on a single source are more likely to have the freedom to maintain their artistic integrity. This film centers on an often taboo topic of menstrual bleeding and explores non-western experiences of feminism and mysticism. These are topics I want to see more of in my media but there is a reason they aren’t popular. Mainstream entertainment, and the money behind it, fears the power that comes from telling these stories. Patriarchy is dependent on a limited number of narratives being available to us. White supremacy, inextricably linked to patriarchy, is similarly dependent on one version of the world—a Western white one. By supporting projects like Tenebris Vulnus we can expand our perspectives in a way that strikes at the core of patriarchy and white supremacy. I encourage you to view the Indiegogo donation page for Tenebris Vulnus to support this feminist docufiction.
As I write this I am cursing the cramps that come in waves despite the additional hormones I’ve allowed doctors to pump into my body for the past 25 years. My body assaults itself for no apparent reason two weeks of every month. My emotions are unreliable and I question if my feelings are my own or just the time of month—spilling from me as freely as the blood. I am eager to get lost in the Amazonian Highlands with Blondet’s team and see if there is a better way hiding there.
Article by Claire Ryder
VERVE Operative USA & Humanitarian Activist