Institute History

  • 2006 Sundance Film Festival


Princesas is a film that will truly detach itself from your expectations. Caye comes from a middle-class family unaware of her life as a prostitute. She and the other "Spanish" whores hang out in a hair salon, complaining about cheaper immigrant putas stealing their business. One of them is Zuleman, a striking woman from the Dominican Republic, who works the streets to support a son back home. When Zule is badly beaten, Caye takes her to a hospital. Both are isolated from their families—Zule by distance, Caye by shame. Both pin their dreams on money or idealized relationships. And both begin to see each other as the only thing solid enough to hold onto.

Caye and Zule are tough, complicated women who share in a discovery of self-determination. While it contains director Fernando León de Aranoa's signature concern with the forces that constrain working-class people, Princesas is social realism infused with a wonderful, figurative touch. His ability to turn grim realities into glimpses of humanity, absent of sentimentality or cliché, stems from his sensitivity, vitality, and humor—not to mention two exceptionally talented actors. León de Aranoa uses stories to discover people (and he greets these women with open arms). Their desires are ours—happiness, love, dignity. Daily, they walk a tightrope, which in itself is an act of grace…whether you're a princess or a whore.

— John Nein

Screening Details

  • Section: World Cinema Dramatic Competition
  • Film Type: Dramatic Feature
  • Country: Spain
  • Run Time: 113 min.
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