In January 2016, Ella Es el Matador (She Is the Matador) filmmakers Gemma Cubero del Barrio and Celeste Carrasco on life after the film premiered in 2009:
Ella Es el Matador (She Is the Matador) has given us the gift of wonder and surprise. Ever since the documentary premiered on POV in 2009 the film has continued to screen around the word finding a diverse and multicultural audience connecting with a universal message of women overcoming obstacles and pursuing a dream. We are eternally grateful to our visionary Executive Producer Sheila C. Johnson and Suzanne La Fetra for believing in the film and to POV and Latino Public Broadcasting — all of you who have made this wide reach possible.
— Gemma Cubero del Barrio and Celeste Carrasco
In these last 8 years much has happened in the world of bullfighting and the lives of our main film characters Eva Florencia and Maripaz Vega.
As many of you know, bullfighting was banned in the region of Spain known as Cataluña but it is still practiced in other parts of Spain and in Latin America. Maripaz Vega has continued to show audiences her passion and commitment to the profession. When asked if her situation has changed in the last 8 years she confesses that the economic crisis in Spain cut a lot of the funding for festivities affecting everyone chances to get more contracts. She is still making her living bullfighting more in Latin America than in Spain and especially Mexico.
Eva Florencia has not gotten back into the ring but continues to express her love for the bull. Eva has been able to feel and follow the trajectory of the film because she gets emails from viewers around the world requesting information about her paintings and how she is doing. In the last 8 years her art keeps growing and has been shown at art exhibits in Seville. She continues painting the bull in the beautiful Andalusian landscapes and offers tours to Italian tourists who want to learn about bull breeding, the life of the animal in the bull-breeding farms and the ins and outs of this profession. Her passion is still alive and she says, “I still grab the cape and enjoy the bull in the country.” She still lives in the beautiful town of Higuera de la Sierra and is now happily married.
Celeste Carrasco is living in Madrid and is now a mother of two beautiful boys. She continues her collaboration with Gemma Cubero del Barrio while producing Operas at the Teatro Real in Madrid. Gemma lives in Hawaii and has continued her work directing and producing documentary films through Talcual Films and cultivating her passion for documentary film as a consulting producer, a teacher to young women, and a university professor. For the last three years she has been working on her new feature length film Homecoming. This is a film on the urgent matter of climate change and the preservation of indigenous knowledge told through the experiences of two women and their unique connection to the atoll Pukapuka in the South Pacific. Like Ella Es el Matador, Homecoming raises many of the same themes about determination, passion, and two women’s journeys towards wholeness.
Film Update: September 2010
Here’s an update with highlights from screenings of Ella Es el Matador (She Is the Matador), and from the lives of subjects Eva and Mari Paz since the film premiered on POV last year. We thank you for taking the time to write comments on the POV site and for expressing your diverse points of view!
— Gemma Cubero & Celeste Carrasco
Best Doc Award & Audience Award
In November 2009, Ella Es el Matador (She is the Matador) won the best documentary award at the Women in Direction International Film Festival in Cuenca, Spain. In April 2010 the film was awarded the audience award at the 23rd Medina Del Campo Film Festival also in Spain.
Eva created a new website and has been showing her artwork in exhibits in Seville. She exhibited four of her paintings in the Sierpes & Adriano gallery and published three of her paintings in the program of the Maestranza Bullring in Sevilla. She continues to paint and has also been contacted by many American viewers after the broadcast.
If you are interested in buying her paintings, or if you want to find out more, contact Eva through her website.
Mari Paz Vega
Mari Paz was recognized in her hometown with two awards: the Victoria Galardón Award, given by the Association of Professional Business Women of Málaga, Spain, and the Day of Andalusia Award, which recognizes her determination to pursue her dream in the world of bullfighting.
This year Mari Paz fought successfully in Venezuela, and she is still fighting for a place in the top rankings in Spain.
Visit Mari Paz Vega’s Blog to learn more about her accomplishments this year.
Update from Eva Bianchini:
Bullfighting was my life, and the last time I fought a bull was three years ago, in an open field, under the moonlight. I felt alone with my sadness, and I bid farewell to that whole life. When I came back home, I put my cape away.
It was a very hard time for me. I felt as though I had failed, and my hope had been destroyed. I removed everything that reminded me of bullfighting from my home, and I was very depressed.
But one day I woke up and decided to take up, once again, a hobby that I had quit when I began to be interested in bullfighting: painting. I had felt a passion for art as a teenager, and now, after many years, I felt that interest again.
I started painting again in 2007, and in 2008 I participated in some painting contests. Two of my works received accolades and were published, and I considered making painting my new profession.
My earliest works had nothing to do with bullfighting, but over time, I realized that just because I was taking a new path did not mean I had to forget the old path. My wounds began to heal, and I began to paint bulls.
In 2007 I was completely out of the bullfighting world, but about a year ago, I began to go to see bullfights again. Now, I follow bullfighting as an aficionado, but with more experience than the typical fan. I have had no physical contact with a bull for three years.
I continue to live in Spain, but I go back to Italy every year to see my family. In 2010 there will be an exhibition of my paintings in Seville, Spain.
Update from the filmmakers:
POV: Are there any up-and-coming female matadors in Spain at the moment?
Gemma Cubero and Celeste Carrasco: We checked with Mari Paz Vega, who is, of course, very aware of whether there are other women fighting in the ring. She tells us that as of right now, there are some women who are novilleras (apprentices), but none of them are matadors.
Mari Paz is still the only active professional female matador in the world.
POV: How long does Mari Paz Vega plan to be a matador?
Cubero and Carrasco: Mari Paz said that she is going to continue bullfighting “until her body tells her to stop.” She tells us that she is still excited to fight for her place in the top rankings, and she plans to keep fighting as long as the bullfighting audience wants to see her in the ring.
POV: What is Mari Paz interested in doing after she retires from bullfighting?
Cubero and Carrasco: Mari Paz says, “I want to continue enjoying the bullfighting life once I retire. And like many other people, I want to have a family, have kids and enjoy life.”
Do you have a question for Mari Paz? Leave your question for her in the comment section of Ask Eva and Mari Paz. They will both answer select viewer questions during the week after the broadcast of the film.
POV: Did the gory aspects of bullfighting bother either of you when you were making this film? Did making the film change your mind about bullfighting?
Cubero and Carrasco: Neither of us liked bullfighting at the start of filming. It was hard, at times, to watch certain aspects of the bullfight. However, over the last nine years, we have gained tremendous respect for the protagonists of our film. Now we are shocked to find ourselves in the position of wanting to see Mari Paz’s future fights!
POV: What are you working on now?
Cubero and Carrasco: At the moment we are developing a new documentary about queer tango and the role of gender in this type of dancing. We are also researching a story about women farm workers in Morocco.