By David Robinson
The New Man (El Hombre Nuevo) tells the story of Stephanía, whose life began as a boy named Roberto. At the tender age of 12, Roberto fought for education and social reforms in the Sandinista Revolution in Nicaragua, and 30 years later Stephanía strives to be accepted by society and her long estranged family. About 15 minutes into The New Man (El Hombre Nuevo), Stephanía Mirza Curbelo is asked to talk about the times that she feels discriminated against. Stephanía shrinks, cracks a smile and replies bluntly: “Ah, todo la vida [Well, all my life].” Award-winning Uruguayan filmmaker Aldo Garay has followed Stephania for more than 20 years. In this vibrant and lyrical film, Garay introduces Stephania, wandering somewhat mysteriously through the streets of Montevideo, Uruguay, her adopted home of several decades. We accompany her on a journey home to Nicaragua to reconnect with the family she hasn’t seen since she was known as a boy named Roberto who taught literacy as a child activist in the Sandinista Revolution. Each step of Stephania’s journey brings unexpected texture into this richly engaging character study. The New Man, which won the Berlin International Film Festival’s 2015 Teddy Award for Best Documentary, tells the story of Stephania’s personal struggle as shaped by religion, poverty, war and sexual politics. Although Stephania continues to meet adversity and discrimination, she faces these obstacles and the contradictions of her life with an abiding determination that is simultaneously dignified and heroic. – Screens Sunday, May 17 at 2:30 p.m. at the Hollywood Theatre, Portland, Ore. as part of QDoc.