Since the late Oscar de la Renta first dressed Jackie O back in the 1960s, the Dominican Republic has had a special relationship with the world of high fashion. Now, in addition to possessing one of the world’s most influential fashion houses, Quisqueya can also take pride in a growing local film industry that has been making its mark both at the box office and at international film festivals. But who knew that it would take Italian director and Cannes phenom Alice Rohrwacher to bring these two worlds together in her latest short film De Djess?
Commissioned by Prada subsidiary Miu Miu as part of their Women’s Tales short film series, De Djess stars 21-year old Dominican actress Yanet Mojica, who recently debuted on the world stage alongside Geraldine Chaplin in Israel Cárdenas and Laura Amelia Guzmán’s Dólares de arena (Sand Dollars). Clearly, Mojica’s first acting role made a strong impression on international audiences as the film made the rounds through the world’s most prestigious festivals. Enough that Rohrwacher sought out the one-time dance instructor to star as a sort of 21st century Cinderella in this surrealist short film.
With more than a few references to the Italian master of film surrealism Federico Fellini, De Djess pokes fun at the absurdity of fame and paparazzi as a group of mindless shutter jockeys shuffle around a luxurious hotel lobby snapping pictures of beautiful people decked out in Miu Miu dresses. Meanwhile, a battalion of nuns and their subordinate maids scamper about making sure that the whole ritual runs as smoothly as possible. When one particularly finicky celebrity refuses to wear the dress she’s been provided, Yanet Mojica’s maid character secretly tries it on and unwittingly becomes the next target for the mindless flock of paparazzos. Oh, and all of this plays out in some unidentifiable, made-up language.
If De Djess is any indication, fame is not merely a flash in the pan for Mojica, a former bachatera whose chance acting audition skyrocketed her to the very world of glitz and glamour portrayed in this short. Hopefully one day she’ll even get to play the celebrity, rather than just another maid.