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Mexico, 1997 (MIFF 1998, International Panorama)

Director: Carlos Marcovich

Juliette is a lively, streetwise and pretty Cuban teenager residing in Havana. She was orphaned after her mother's suicide and father's flight to the US. Juliette, despite the fact that the reverse is patently obvious to all concerned, claims she does not wish to be reunited with her father. Raised by her grandmother, Juliette has drifted into prostitution.

When a production team arrives in Havana to shoot a music video, Juliette is hired to play the younger incarnation of Fabiola, a successful Mexican supermodel whom she resembles in appearance. Similarly preoccupied with an absent father, Fabiola and Juliette connect instantly. When the crew moves on, Fabiola arranges for Juliette to be interviewed by her modelling agent before departing for New York where Juliette's father lives.

With a staunch disregard for the formal distinctions between narrative fiction and documentary, Who the Hell is Juliette? brazenly defies easy categorisation. Both female leads play themselves and the filmmaker followed their progress for three years in a crucial period of their lives. Acting as his own camera operator and with a sound recordist in tow, Marcovich followed the pair from Cuba to Mexico, New York and Los Angeles. His intervention in Juliette's life by tracing her father results in one of the most moving moments in this outstanding new work alive with sweeping visuals and self-relexive irony. An electric melding of genres, this low-budget labour of love shimmers with humour, pathos and invention, and introduces a gifted young director to international screens.

Carlos Marcovich was born in Buenos Aires in 1963. He moved to Mexico City in 1976 where he was later to study film at the University of Mexico City. He has worked as a cinematographer on films including Dana Rotberg's Intimacy and Roberto Sneider's Two Crimes (MIFF 1996) as well as directing several music videos. Who the Hell is Juliette? is Marcovich's feature debut.

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