10 JUL 2023

Paloma Baeza: “Frida Kahlo’s story translates brilliantly into animation”

The BAFTA Award-winning writer and director Paloma Baeza talks about “Las Dos Fridas,” the forthcoming hand-drawn animated feature from Lupus Films.

10 JUL 2023

Paloma Baeza

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Last month, London-based sales agency WestEnd Films announced a new partnership with Lupus Films on their forthcoming hand-drawn animated feature about the colorful life of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo, entitled “Las Dos Fridas,” which has been developed with the assistance of the BFI.

Written and directed by BAFTA Award-winning writer and director Paloma Baeza, herself of Mexican descent, “Las Dos Fridas” will explore the reasons why the spirited and passionate Frida Kahlo still captivates 65 years after her death. With a visual style inspired by the artist’s paintings and illustrations, the film will form a rich canvas of a life filled with laughter, romance and pain as it focuses on the key moments which changed Kahlo’s life – from the motor accident that permanently disabled her and led her to paint, to her tumultuous love affairs with life partner and soul mate, Diego Rivera, and photographer Nickolas Muray.

“I think this project makes sense. Her story translates brilliantly into animation because of her visual world. For me, the approach was: how can we say more about Frida’s internal life? A more traditional biopics would just tell the audience about the events in her life. What animation is so brilliant for is that you can be a little bit looser and more visual, and also really get into her art, heart and brain,”  Paloma Baeza told Señal News.

Combined with a dramatized depiction of Kahlo’s vivid imagination and entering the surreal worlds of some of her most famous works, the film will paint a searingly intimate and beautiful portrait of this multi-faceted icon. The film is helmed by an all-female team which includes Baeza, producers Camilla Deakin and Ruth Fielding of Lupus Films, and award-winning art director Sharon Liu. WestEnd Films will sell the film under its WeLove label launched to promote female talent and bring female driven content to serve audiences across all genres.

“It was about the stylistic choices, but ‘Las Dos Fridas’ is also quite narrative driven. I did not want to just make a series of images. There are so many fascinating things about Frida’s life, and it made sense to me to start with something that inspired me, which is a passage in her diary where she talks about an imaginary friend that she had as a child. The duality of her existence was always not just about the imaginary friend, but she also was obsessed with versions of herself. In fact, there are versions of herself in her paintings, like in the very famous ‘Las Dos Fridas,’”  Baeza said.

Being able to develop the story in an animated format was a great help for Baeza, and a great differential of the final product. “It is really helpful because there are some really powerful shortcuts you can take with animation. In live action you can take some liberties, but then you have to create that visual world. If you are already in a visual world where you can go from one texture or shape to another, you have much more freedom,”  Baeza explained.

“I think the project says a lot about all the things by which people identify Frida. It is a feminine story, but it is also about disability and empowerment, and that can speak to every gender. That is why she is so alive today in people’s minds,”  the BAFTA Award-winning writer and director concluded.

By Diego Alfagemez and Federico Marzullo