“You have to help me, you know I’m not like that,” the protagonist of ’15 hours’ implores his wife after kicking her ribs. No one would guess an abuser in this important conductor, who lives in a spectacular mansion with his beautiful wife, also a musician, and a beautiful daughter. But sexist violence does not understand social classes or artistic sensibilities. Judith Colell, director of ‘Nosotras’ and ’53 Días de Invierno’ and former vice president of the Spanish Film Academy, competes in Malaga with a drama that takes place almost in real time: the one that takes her heroine to finally try to get away from his abuser.
Shot in the Dominican Republic and starring Sterlyn Ramirez, also a producer, and Marc Clotet, ’15 hours’ does not hide its didactic and denunciation vocation. After the physical violence comes the psychological one. It is about blaming the victim until they believe that, after all, he may deserve the sticks. Then comes psychological violence: “Who would take better care of your daughter than you?” He threatens. And the constant harassment calling her on her mobile so that she feels watched at all times. To denounce him would imply giving up a social position that only a small elite enjoy in the Caribbean country.
In just 80 minutes, Colell has time to show a few closed doors: that of the protagonist herself, who does not dare to admit to the doctor who has not fallen at home eight times in the last three years; a mother, who reproaches him if he did not know what marriage was and that it is normal for couples to fight; to a priest, who begs her to stay with her husband; to a friend who is afraid of losing her job; to the bureaucracy and the lack of attention to battered women in a country like the Dominican Republic.
«These days, before coming to Malaga, every day I would open the newspaper and meet a new murdered woman. It is another pandemic that we have in the world, “laments Judith Colell. “We have to keep talking about this subject until there is not a dead woman. Not even one”. The vertigo at the complaint, the film shows, also occurs in the upper classes. The director was interested in showing “the closed doors” with which “women with self-esteem on the ground” are found. “Here we have laws and a protection system, but there they come to deliver the complaint to the victims so they can give it to their husbands.”
’15 hours’ will end up in the list of honors for its spirit of denunciation. But, unlike ‘I give you my eyes’, by Icíar Bollaín, it does not get us to get into the mind of an abuser, who here is a flat villain. “I conceive the cinema as a weapon of awareness”, argues the director. «A woman is nobody’s possession. The key is to educate children in equality so that this ends.