Who the Hell Is Juliette? (¿Quien diablos es Juliette?)

Director: Carlos Marcovich
Screenwriters: Carlos Cuaron

Institute History

  • 1998 Sundance Film Festival


With a staunch disregard for the formal distinctions between narrative fiction and documentary, Who the Hell Is Juliette? brazenly defies easy categorization. An electric melding of genres, this low-budget labor of love shimmers with humor, pathos, and invention and introduces a gifted young director to the international stage. The film’s streetwise protagonist is Juliette, a Cuban teenager orphaned as a result of her father’s emigration to the United States and her mother’s subsequent suicide. Raised by her grandmother, Juliette satisfies her penchant for Western fineries by prostituting herself to wealthy European and American tourists. Sharp, independent, and highly volatile, Juliette reviles those who judge her impoverished circumstances and defiant morality. She, too, refuses easy categorization.

When a production team arrives in Cuba to shoot a music video, the director casts Juliette to play the younger incarnation of Fabiola, a successful Mexican model. Similarly preoccupied with her absent father, the melancholy Fabiola instantly connects with the young woman and arranges for her to interview with a modeling agent. Soon after, the filmmaker effects one of the film’s most poignant scenes: a meeting between Juliette and her father in Mexico City. A three-year cross-cultural odyssey, the film’s nonlinear narrative deftly scrutinizes the ways in which Juliette, Fabiola, and the filmmaker impact each other’s lives and defy each other’s (and our own) expectations. Laced with self-reflexive irony and sweeping visuals, Who the Hell Is Juliette? is a provocative and intimate meditation on female identity, cultural subjectivity, and sexual politics.

Carlos Marcovich, Director
Carlos Marcovich was born in Buenos Aires in 1963. He moved to Mexico City in 1976, where he graduated from the Centre for Cinematographic Studies at the University of Mexico City in 1987. He has been the director of photography for a number of important Mexican films, including Jorge Fons’s Midaq Alley, Roberto Sneider’s Two Crimes, and Dana Rotberg’s Intimacy. He has also directed several music videos. Who the Hell Is Juliette? is his first feature film.

— Reb ecca Yeldham

Screening Details

Sundance Film Festival Awards

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