‘Valentina’, the first Galician film with a protagonist with Down syndrome


Valentina is a girl who dreams of being a trapeze artist but believes that she will not be able to achieve it because she has Down syndrome. And it is that, in the words of the director of the animated film that tells the story in which Valentina is the protagonist, the ferrolana Chelo Loureiro, “while other children are given wings, these are cut off”. Y children with Down syndrome “have the same illusions as any other“.

Loureiro is the director, producer and screenwriter of ‘Valentina’, the first animated film with a protagonist with Down syndromewhich opens in theaters on December 10.

The film tells the story of the girl and her dream, for which his grandmother always encourages him to persevere with a message: “If the caterpillars manage to become butterflies, nothing is impossible”. One day, without saying goodbye to her granddaughter, the grandmother goes on a trip and Valentina decides to go looking for her accompanied by her friend Chiqui and the figures on the chessboard.

But with this film, in the words of Chelo Loureiro, in an interview granted to Europa Press, he did not “intend to tell the story of one of these children”, but his intention was “normalize the look towards these children and any adult”.

What I wanted was to tell the story of a girl with a disability, but normalized; that the story was not about disability, but about the story of that girl, in this case Valentina, who has the same dreams as any other child”, she explains.

Childhood “the same” as any other child

Loureiro considers that whoever lives with any person with this disability sees him “as something everyday, for herself and for her family. “What happens is that many times the rest see them as different people, but they are not. They are as they are,” adds the director.

Valentina lives her childhood just like any other child, but many times while the other children are given wings, they are cut off. I think that is what we should reflect on and help them to make their dreams come true too”, he indicated.

In this line of creating a film that would help “normalize” the look, Loureiro contacted different associations at regional and national level to create the character. Several girls with Down syndrome who gave life to Valentina and the voice actors, both in Galician and Spanish, have Down syndrome.

I was clear that I did not want to put a dubbing actress imitating her. Not only because it is very difficult to imitate their voices, since they are very characteristic, but if we are talking about integration, it did not make sense to create a farce,” he said.

When asked about how the initiative was perceived by the different associations, he stated that “in all the Down centers they welcomed the project with great enthusiasm because what they want is to be visible and respected“. Thus, “they are enthusiastic and very happy.”

Children public

Although ‘Valentina’ is Chelo Loureiro’s first film as a director, it is not as a producer. In fact, just as ‘Valentina’ is the first animated film with a Down syndrome protagonist, in 2010 he made the first 3D animated film for early childhood with ‘The rag troop in the country where the sun always shines’.

However, he indicates that generally “films are aimed at a target of from seven years, because it’s the age at which you can put together a story with good guys and bad guys.” According to the director, children under seven “have a terrible time with evil, just as it is also said that they don’t go to the movies and that they don’t They can endure a movie, but they can endure an episode of a series”.

That is why his first film is designed for a ‘preschool’ audience, “Because the content I see focused on this world doesn’t quite enchant me.” He says that he sees that “many times” children are created and put content “too mercantilist and with little depth charge”.

At this age is when values ​​are really consolidated, in the most tender childhood. Many child psychologists say that up to the age of six is ​​when values ​​are established and that from then on personality structures are well established”, explained the director, who has insisted that “you have to address this public”.

But, in addition to as a way to establish values, the director also believes that “Cinema is a form of entertainment, but also of education.” At that age, children “reproduce what they see, that’s why it’s so important to take care of them.”

In fact, when asked if he plans to make more films on this subject, he admits that he has not considered it. “In any case, I have in mind to do a series, ‘Super Valentina’because we believe that the character gives”, he pointed out.

author design

As in previous works, in this film the director follows a line of author animation far from the aesthetics of Disney and Pixar“which in the end is what sells”.

Throughout her career, the director has worked with Galician talent because he believes “that we must bet on the talents from here, which are many, both in Spain and in Galicia”, and he likes to “give them a chance”.

He is aware that the film is for a “much smaller audience” than “obviously is not reciprocated with the mass public in theaters“, but that it is “something very important” to her and what really makes her feel good.

To illustrate the film, they had ehe artist David Pintor, winner of several international awards and author of many children’s stories. In order to adapt to the style of the illustrator, they used a mixture of 3D and 2D precisely to get “as close as possible” to the style of David Pintor, who sees “a magnificent and enormous children’s illustrator, loaded with awards” and admires.

Galician and international

‘Valentina’ is produced in Galiciathe original version is in Galician, and throughout the protagonist’s journey different places of Galician geography appear, such as Santiago de Compostela, with the Plaza de Platerías and the Bonaval park, or Ourense.

I am very interested in the fact that Galicia is present, that history is in a place from which it starts, I love to sell my country and that it is recognizable“, he pointed out, before explaining that, for this reason, he sought “locations that are recognizable to anyone, whether in another country or in Galicia itself”.

One of the key objects in the film is the game of chess, both the figures, which represent different characters: “For example, on the trip the king and queen act as mom and dad’s alter egos, and the others are as giddy as children can be, with a childlike personality”, as if it were the game his grandmother teaches him .

“Chess seems like an ancient game to me, that everyone can play. When you plan a story you have to think that it will be seen all over the world. I never plan a story just for my environment, for my country, I think about making it international“, he pointed out.

A film not only for children

“What I would like is for them to like ‘Valentina’ and have fun. But also, since children don’t go to the movies alone, that it can serve as a theme for conversation and reflection. Because if they don’t have someone with these characteristics at home, they probably never stopped to think “, he has transferred.

Also, one of the themes that the film touches on is death and how to deal with it. Chelo hopes that ‘Valentina’ will help deal with this issue “especially for parents and that it will serve as a tool. Because there are many parents who do not know how to approach this issue.”

‘Valentina’, the first Galician film with a protagonist with Down syndrome