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RITA MORENO: JUST A GIRL WHO DECIDED TO GO FOR IT (2021, USA)

As the title suggests, this biographical documentary brings us the life story of Rita Moreno, an American actress with a long and successful career who is only one of the few people who have won what the Americans call the EGOT. This abbreviation refers to the Emmy, Grammy, Tony and Oscar, awards for television, music, theater and film, and this documentary premiered at the Sundance festival. And we are guided through her life story by Rita Moreno herself, who at the beginning is preparing to celebrate her 87th birthday, and we see that she is still very active and that she is still filming. Given that the director of the film, Mariem Perez Riera, is originally from Puerto Rico, from where Moreno also moved to New York as a girl in the 1930s, of course a good part is devoted to the fact that this incredible woman broke through some borders and barriers as a Latina woman and is the first Latin American who managed to win all these awards and recognitions.

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Although today Moreno may act as the true embodiment of the American dream, a poor girl who was once the biggest star and idol for all Latina women who were making their way, we will see what was actually hidden behind that American dream. We follow her life story from the beginning, her childhood in Puerto Rico and the poor parts of New York, and then how she made her way in Hollywood and how it really wasn’t easy for her. Not only because at that time Hollywood was a place full of various predators compared to whom today they look like Viennese boys, but also because due to prejudice and her background, Moreno was immediately put in the box of a Latina actress and she could not get quality roles.

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Shut up and be sexy is the sentence that she heard most often at that time in the early stages of her career, and today, when she is in her later years, quite openly and soberly, Rita talks and remembers all the struggles with lack of self-confidence and self-esteem. About the unhappy romances, especially the one with Marlon Brando, but also about racism, chauvinism and even sexual abuse that she went through during her seven-decade-long career. Of course, a lot of attention is also paid to her most famous role, the role of the Puerto Rican girl Anita in “West Side Story”, which brought her an Oscar for supporting actress. Considering the life she had and a career that lasts more than 70 years, at times this one and a half hour documentary seems a bit crowded and there was clearly too little time to seriously scratch the surface, but Rita Moreno’s life story is certainly fascinating and deserves attention.

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