Mary Frances Attías, thank you very much for agreeing to this interview. Let’s get to the heart of the matter. How did you decide to tackle this vast issue of gender-based violence and child abduction in cases of parental violence in Central and Latin America and beyond?

In 2007, our local newspaper reported on a confirmed case of violence that deeply shocked me. Since then, as an aspiring screenwriter and producer, I’ve wanted to work in the film industry to denounce and communicate the different aspects of violence. After the pandemic, the need to do so became even more pressing with the increase in violence due to domestic confinement.
So, with the help of a friend, producer and scriptwriter, we assembled a team of young talent to make “A Leap into the Void” a reality. Among these young talents, the two directors, Adrian Santana and Adrian Díaz, worked with us to adapt what we wanted to say into a script.

Since the film is directed by two men, you’ve taken on a very difficult task, which is to be commended. Do you think you can have an extra impact because we’re not in a setting where women talk to women?

As executive producer and writer, I had to lead several discussions to explain my point of view on how the story should be told and why. It took a lot of effort and time to explain the female point of view and help the male members of the team to see the reality of a society that condones men’s actions even when they are “bad”. They had to learn the facts and understand the need to communicate the message. Several corrections were made to the original script to accomplish this arduous task.

Commenting on the film, you said: “As filmmakers, we felt the pressure to tell this story in a way that would have a positive impact. We realized that reducing graphic violence to a minimum, (…) focusing on the consequences and traumas it leaves behind, was the best way (…)

We used modern cinematic language and a fluid rhythm to make this subject affordable, which many find uncomfortable.”

Do you think that highlighting gender violence, even “minimizing graphic violence”, is really a means to an end?

We agreed beforehand with the directors to avoid explicit violence, as we wanted this play to be educational and screened in universities, schools and cultural spaces to generate discussion and awareness about violence and help create real solutions at a societal level.

A Leap Into The Void is “a look at a real case to do justice to these real victims, knowing that even in the worst of endings, there can be a second chance, but above all that tragic endings can be avoided”.
In the film, Tania passes on what she has learned to a therapy group, but her life is shattered forever. Do you have any examples of what can be done to give victims a second chance?


I’m no expert in this field, but I understand that individual and group therapy work well in these cases. The victim’s commitment to this process is also essential to getting through the stages of grief.

Stability counts for a lot, and creating a sense of security through a job or establishing a routine is important. It’s a deep scar, and these women need all the support they can get to go on living.

Would you say that living in a practising Catholic country and being a Catholic makes a difference?

I think so. As a Catholic woman, I don’t agree with certain submissive practices that the Church has supported to avoid divorce. Many mistaken beliefs have led to women falling into the hands of violent men. Religion, in general, should revise some of these approaches.

You address the vicious circle of alcoholism and violence among men, and a somewhat patriarchal, domineering attitude towards women, denying them access to higher education and thus empowerment. How important is this question in the Dominican Republic, and in Hispanic cultures in general, in the 21st century?

This is a very important point. In fact, statistics show that women are now increasingly autonomous, productive and professionally progressive. Many Dominican households are single-parent households supported by women. We need to invest in women’s education, empowerment and mental health. These are just some of the issues we address as the “TimeArt Foundation”. Alcohol is both a trigger and a symptom of violence, and should be taken into account in all countries.

Tania, the main protagonist, resigns herself to working in a nightclub that is a den of the type of men she seeks to escape. Are you familiar with this situation?

Aren’t women trapped in a submissive role, even as they give the impression of gaining independence through employment?

The main protagonist says: “I realized that I believed him (the husband) because I had no self-esteem.” What do you think can be done to really help women emancipate themselves?


Unfortunately, women without means or education often fall into this trap by working in unsavory workplaces. But violence is everywhere. Some institutions, religious or governmental, try to help these women.

As a society, we need to work on building women’s self-esteem.

This means banning “macho” or patriarchal behaviors that minimize the value of women, reducing them to mere transactions or advertising icons to sell merchandise.

Women are not objects or property, but human beings with rights.

A brief statement describing your vision of post-covid cinema.

Do you think there will be any significant changes?

The confinements were a great opportunity to show films and series. This was one of the activities that could take place at home. I think there are many stories to be told from the Covid experience. People have changed, and so have their values. I think we’ve learned new ways of doing things. This will have an impact on cinema. The films will have to reflect these changes.

Mary Frances Attías


Erin Mackellin Director & Writer

Curiosity, admiration for nature and the fragility of the human condition are elements that permeate my artistic work. An adventurous and restless personality drives me to discover stories in everything I see. As a photographer, scriptwriter and producer, my work is generally imbued with the presence of everyday life and current events, from a highly ambiguous point of view, as a trigger for tackling universal questions linked to identity, memory, time, love and death. I try to communicate my personal vision of the world, creating a kind of shared diary.

I’m passionate about street photography, portraiture, literature, film and painting as a way of interpreting the world around us and dealing with the situations that preoccupy me.

As a filmmaker, “A Leap to the Void” is my Opera Prima. But many stories are already waiting to be revealed.

ITV Isabelle Rouault-Röhlich

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