Novela, Novela

07:20 min
International Documentary
Director: Elizabeth Miller
Producer: Elizabeth Miller

Winner of the Women’s Rights Award


More About Novela, Novela from Director Elizabeth Miller

I first met Virginia Lacayo and Amy Bank, Executive Producers of Sexto Sentido while I was living in Nicaragua in the early 90’s. Amy and Virginia were working for the nonprofit Puntos de Encuentro (Meeting Points) and producing a youth radio program and a wildly popular magazine called “La Boletina.” For over ten years, the organization has promoted women’s and young people’s rights to make decisions about their bodies, their sexuality and their lives. Rather than seeking to change individual behavior, the group attempted to influence public opinion and social norms through progressive media projects made by and for young people.

Shooting Novela, Novela

Sexto Sentido was inspired by Virginia and Co-Producer Amy Bank’s success in producing live television debates around the UN-sponsored World Women’s Conference in Beijing. When I first heard about the emerging project, I was eager to see how Virginia and Amy would manage to introduce controversial feminist ideas into the mass media and radically impact both their audience and the Nicaraguan television industry itself.

It took five years for the group to get together the funding to produce the first episodes of the soap opera and I visited Nicaragua two times during that gestation time. I produced and shot Novela, Novela during these two one-week visits with input from Amy, Virginia, and other staff members. After finishing a rough cut, I returned to Nicaragua with my laptop to select clips from the series and to create a final cut with input from the group. Frameline provided me with a finishing grant that permitted me to add subtitles, a sound mix, and to work with editor Yael Bitton . In addition to this 8-minute short, I also edited a thirty-minute documentary, which explores the history and context of Puntos de Encuentro and how homophobia is dealt with in the program.

Watching Novela, Novela

The program Sexto Sentido, deals with many social issues that are part of young people’s daily lives, such as adolescent pregnancy, alcoholism, rape, abortion, and emergency contraception. In Novela, Novela I chose to focus on domestic violence because I was inspired by how Virginia and Amy connected this television character to the powerful women’s movement against violence. Puntos de Encuentro is a founding member and key player in the National Network of Women Against Violence, and has developed public awareness campaigns to promote better legislation and services for women. The young character of Elena was an enormously successful vehicle to inform women of all ages about legislation and services around domestic violence. Many Nicaraguans identify with her and have reaped lessons from her story to improve their lives.

Elena todo el tiempo me ha gustado, en la anterior temporada y en ésta también. Me gusta por su espíritu de lucha, de no dejarse vencer y de ir tras sus sueños!

The character I have always liked the most is Elena, in the previous series and in this one. I love her spirit of resistance, she doesn’t give up and she follows her dreams!

I also chose the theme of homophobia not only because the topic is so controversial in Nicaragua, but also because it communicates the powerful “feedback loop” which is integral to the program. The producers have developed truly innovative ways of collecting audience feedback and then applying this information to the development of new characters and approaches to important social issues.

The longer documentary has been shown around the United States, in Latin America, and in Europe along with a sub-titled episode from the series. Funding the program is an ongoing challenge for the producers and the exposure and positive international reception has been essential to the ongoing work of the group. Furthermore the example of Puntos de Encuentro has inspired individuals and other nonprofits around the world to implement aspects of the innovative educational, evaluation, and distribution strategies into their work.

Well known writer Clemencia Rodriguez has written about the project in her article,
From the Sandinista Revolution to Telenovelas: The Case of Puntos de Encuentro, Nicaragua In Tufte T. and Hemer O. (eds) Media, Communication and Social Change: Rethinking Communication for Development. Rowman and Littlefield.


LGBTQIA (Lesbian, Gay etc.), Media That Matters 4,
Creative Commons License: Attribution, Non-Commercial, No Derivative Works


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