Film Review: Miss Meta

By Jazid Contreras Vergel November 13, 2019
Miss Meta
Photo: Courtesy of Jesús Arley López

4/5 stars

Miss Meta is a documentary short film directed by Jesús Arley López that tells the story of Jairo Briceño, a 63-year-old drag queen from Villavicencio who started cross-dressing and performing in the 1970s.

It’s a short but substantial piece of filmmaking that shows the protagonist’s transformation into his drag persona, a glamorous Marylin Monroe-like character, while he recounts the highs and lows of his life.

He reminisces about when he first moved to Bogotá to become a fabulous drag performer and beauty pageant contestant during a period when homosexuality was illegal and harshly penalised.

At times visibly moved by his memories, other times seemingly emotionless when retelling some of the darkest episodes of his life, like the time he was sexually abused or when he lost most of his friends to AIDS, Briceño pours his heart out with the honesty of someone who has nothing left to lose.

His obsession with beauty hasn’t decreased the slightest bit now that he approaches old age. The inevitability of that makes him tear up in front of the camera as he admits that losing his youth feels like the worst tragedy.

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Heartwarming, heartbreaking and, in the end, uplifting, Miss Meta is a well-rounded portrait of a tremendously interesting person. However, the film raises many questions that are left unanswered – making the viewer wish the story would have gone further and deeper.

Colombia needs an increased and improved representation of queer people in its media. For way too long, LGBT characters only appeared in TV and film to be the subject of mockery.

That’s definitely not the case here. The sensitivity with which López’s camera follows Briceño strutting down the sidewalk as if it were a fashion runway, at the end of Miss Meta, feels like a well-deserved tribute to his craft and tenacity. We need more of that.

Miss Meta doesn’t have a theatrical release date yet, but the director hopes to bring it to the public soon.