Tag Archives: women

A Latina in Space: Paula Garcés on Defying Gravity

Astronaut Paula multitasks teaching & annoying her coworkers

Astronaut Paula multitasks teaching with annoying her coworkers

Did you get a chance to watch Defying Gravity this summer on ABC? If not, you missed out on a gem cut short before its time. ABC aired eight episodes of this show and hasn’t decided whether or not to air the remaining five. This is a shame, because while this series is definitely sci-fi and us geeks could revel in its space station beauty and solar system CGI, it also has suspense and romance that could appeal to a wider audience. I’m not sure how well publicized this show was, but considering how I am always on the lookout for new sci-fi shows, Defying Gravity caught me off guard and I didn’t hear about it until a few episodes into the first season.

So here’s the story: It is the year 2052, humans have been to Mars, and the next great multinational exploration mission is aboard spaceship Antares. For six years, it will travel around our solar system visiting several planets for research purposes. I like this premise because it seems realistic that humans will be able to space-travel close to Earth this century (here’s hoping). There is a team of eight astronauts that all have well-hidden emotional baggage, so there is drama amongst the crew and the Mission Control staff back on Earth. The mission itself has its own secrets unbeknownst even to most team members.

Paula Garcés, of Colombian heritage, plays Paula Morales, a former schoolteacher from Texas. She is the payload specialist on the Antares. Fluent in English, Spanish and Ameslan, she is also a shuttle pilot and documents the trip for the whole planet. For example, she carries a video camera around and interviews the other astronauts, then relays the videos to school children. Most of the time she speaks in English, but she also speaks in Spanish making me wonder if she’s talking to English-speaking students studying Spanish, Spanish speaking students studying English, or bilingual students. This may or may not be related to the steady growth of Latino minority groups in the United States. Whatever the reason, it is nice to hear Spanish in space. Never mind that Paula tends to annoy the other astronauts with all her questions.

Paula is very religious and isn’t afraid to display her faith to the crew. She consults her bible whenever she gets stressed out. While the character’s faith is possible, I find it hard to believe it is probable that an astronaut at her level can be so religious.  However, I would let this slide if not for Ajay Sharma, a fellow astronaut from India who is also very religious. They both relate their jobs directly to their faith and destiny. While the one black astronaut transcends ethnic stereotypes, Ajay and Paula unfortunately represent the exotic on the show.  The other characters, white and black, are distinguished by their personalities more than by their religion so it is disappointing how Paula and Ajay are introduced.  I am absolutely not saying that I want no religion or heritage on display and everybody should hide their culture. I am saying that cultural idiosyncrasies shouldn’t be as dominant as it is for these two characters. They are definitely not well-rounded roles. On the bright side, I am grateful that Paula is not the ship’s sex bomb. It is a shame we might not get more episodes because I was beginning to see a glimmer of much needed character development for Paula.

The first eight episodes of Defying Gravity are available on iTunes along with a free preview. They are also available on the ABC and CTV websites. CTV is airing the remaining episodes that ABC can’t decide on showing. As is usual in the case of great shows getting the axe, there is a Save Defying Gravity campaign you can join here and here.

UPDATE: Seems like the show was canceled, but if you’d like some resolution, here is an article interviewing its creator James Parriott.

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Women on Top: “The Future of Women (El futuro de ellas)”


Movie Poster: El futuro de ellas (2011 film)

Poster: El futuro de ellas (2011 film)

Set to premiere in the winter of 2011, The Future of Women (my translation, not official) is a film set in a world where women rule.  It follows two police officers, Lara Cabel and Mila Brieros, in their dangerous mission of stopping world-renown assassin Michaela Tomasi. A mysterious organization has put out a contract on the President of Europe; looks like political conspiracy permeates the government and the movie.

Poster for 2038: El futuro de ellas (2008 short)

Poster for 2038: El futuro de ellas (2008 short)

The feature length film is a reimagining of last year’s short “2038: El futuro de ellas” which had the same director- the young, geeky, and Spanish Rubén Arnaiz. I have not had the chance to see the short, but the concept is an interesting one. In what ways will the world be different if women are in charge? How did they come to power so soon (if it’s also 2038 in this film)? It is post World War III in the original short- is that what changes things? The short’s description said that in the future there are no men, but the full length film only says that women are the government leaders so we’ll see if this changes.

The film’s official blog (in Spanish) is mostly about the short production, and just started with news of the full-length film. Here’s hoping that we’ll actually get to see it on this side of the pond…

UPDATE 8/1/2010: The producer updated the official blog today with the bad news that El Futuro de Ellas will take longer than expected because they’re working on another movie called Doble Sesión. Director Rubén Arnaiz will continue researching for the script however, inspired by sci-fi novels such as 1984, Children of Men and Icon. They will start writing the script in early 2011 and film in spring of 2012. The movie is now expected to premiere in late 2013.

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