SXSW Film Review: Mamifera

At 40, Lola navigates unexpected pregnancy and decisions

Romance, friendship, art, and success color Lola’s days. At 40 years old, she is moving through the universe entirely content with her choice to not be a mother, simultaneously holding space for her sister’s and friends’ children. Hers is a happy and fulfilled life by all accounts.

A powerful examination of one woman’s very personal journey through unexpected pregnancy, the story of Mamifera could take place anywhere. Its main character could be so many women: Pregnancy can happen, whether you want it to or not; fertility is complicated, no matter your location or how you envision life. Writer/director Liliana Torres was strategic in her choices for Lola, played by a spirited Maria Rodríguez Soto. Lola is proudly vegan, an accomplished artist and teacher, happily partnered, and devoted to Cleo, her aging blind dog. Her boyfriend, Bruno (Enric Auquer), seems loving and fully aware of who he’s with. Lola’s nurturing nature is also seen in her lush plants and deep bond with vibrant women friends, who represent many iterations of how it is to be a middle-aged woman.

What first presents as a ramification of potluck lasagna, Lola’s unexpected pregnancy is medically confirmed and ushers in a tidal wave of emotions and an examination of expectations, societal pressures, and the universal human condition that seeks clarity about one’s own life path. Believe it or not, some women want children and have them, some want them and cannot, some have them and wish they did not. Some do not want them at all.

The film explores the stigma surrounding a woman’s right to choose via conversations with her doctor. Mamifera – a rare Spanish (Catalan) language entry in SXSW’s narrative feature competition – takes place in Spain during Lola’s legally required three days of “reflection” before abortion is allowed. In real life, this Spanish law was rescinded in 2022 – a sharp contrast to the near-total ban on abortion in Texas. Both represent the violent paradox humans with pregnancy potential face. The irony of this film’s world premiere in draconian Texas on International Women’s Day was not lost on the audience. France, on the spectrum’s other end, fortified abortion as a constitutional right on the very same day, March 8, 2024.

Lola’s introspection is visualized through powerful solo performance, fascinating relationships, and dream sequences featuring animated art by Chilean collage artist Maria Jose Garces Larrain. In dreams, Lola’s costumes appear to come straight from the 1960s and 70s, an ode to other generations. Lola has all the qualities society would consider essential to be “a good mom.” She also contradicts antiquated stereotypes about what a child-free woman looks like. (She doesn’t even own a cat, let alone 14!)

Mamifera tackles an endlessly complicated, often excruciating, sometimes beautiful topic with grace, humor, and easily relatable characters. It’s a story of an ever-present need to destigmatize the power of choice and remind audiences how precarious our legal rights really are – and why they’re so important.


Narrative Feature Competition, World Premiere

Monday, March 11, 5:30pm & 6pm, Alamo Lamar
Friday, March 15, 5:45pm, Alamo Lamar

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