The Virtual Circle

Thirteen women gather one night to debate about the virtual violence they experience in their bodies. Through their memories, they embark on a trans-media journey where they discover that they share more than they had imagined. The Virtual Circle is a real story that is based on virtual events.

  • Muriel Escalera Pale
    Water Bull Water, Griots, La Comisura
  • Lucía del Mar Suárez del Real
    All the Places, The Hole in the Fence, Lost in the Night
  • Megan McKeown Gleason
    Bull Water Bull, Culture Over Everything, Just a Dream
  • Ursula Schneider
    Production Design
    Señorita 89, Prayers for the Stolen, The Untamed, The hole in the fence
  • Liliana Hernández
    Key Cast
    Member of Teatro La Libertad
  • Patricia Estrada
    Key Cast
    "Soledad "
    Member Veracruz University Theatre Company
  • Luisa Pardo
    Key Cast
    Flora, Fauna, Fuego adentro, Lluvia de Luna
  • Project Title (Original Language):
    El Círculo Virtual
  • Genres:
    hybrid, Sci-fi, comedy, drama
  • Country of Origin:
  • Language:
  • First-time Screenwriter:
  • Student Project:
Writer Biography - Lucía del Mar Suárez del Real

Muriel Escalera (Xalapa, Veracruz, Mexico 1993) is a filmmaker graduated from the Universidad del Cine, Buenos Aires. In her hometown she practiced the traditional genre of son jarocho, which is the subject of her first feature film Toro entre aguas, which premiered at the Black Canvas Contemporary Film Festival. She lived in Mexico City where she studied film in various workshops and worked for various production companies and local productions. In Argentina, she directed two short films; Griots and La comisura. She is currently a professor at the Luis Buñuel University in Xalapa, chair of the documentary department and founder the independent film production company/distributor Jaratuk where she pre-produces her second film El círculo virtual and post-produces Una región en la capital of the filmmaker Leandro Bonilla. She worked as a programmer and public relations at Cinema Nahual and is now part of the Kiltro Cinema collective in the city of Xalapa. Since 2020 she has collaborated with the theater company La Soledad where she recorded the project ¿Qué es el agua? With whom she has traveled to various festivals in Spain. She is part of Void projects where she collaborates as a documentalist for various artistic projects. She works for the Festival delle Lingue in Switzerland where she gives an interactive workshop for adolescents about the history of Son Jarocho Veracruzano through the history of colonization, slavery, and indigenous peoples.

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Writer Statement

My search in the cinema has to do mainly with the paradox of real and the fictional, all my previous films work on this construction in different ways, the topics change but the formal search is a constant. My first film Toro entre aguas, explores a mixture between a documentary of a popular pagan celebration in my home state Veracruz and a fictional love story with actors and non actors that go through it, the story develops by them entering the reality with written scenes and reality entering fictional stagings.
I see myself working on this conversation of genres as a long term goal. In addition to El círculo virtual movie, I am developing a musical feature film driven by actors and non actors that tell the story of the birth of our traditional music Son Jarocho. It follows a journey from Andalucia Spain and the Canary Islands into different countries in Africa and then through the Caribbean to arrive at the port of Veracruz, the first place where the Spaniards landed in México in the year 1500.
I’ve always been inspired by Tony Gatlif and its anthropological and magical storytelling. He is a marvelous example of a director that works with its community to build their own stories and interpret them. Always at the edge of what fictions means and the possibility to represent reality. I would also like to mention Pedro Costa, Agnes Varda, Nicolas Pereda and Kiarostami from which I've gained a lot of knowledge. From Pedro Costa, the work with non actors and actresses and the creative power to intervene reality with an own strong aesthetic point of view. From Agnes I admire the capacity to incorporate poetic voice overs on reality that construct a unique poetic discourse. From Nicolás I adopt characters that interpret themselves and the playful way of doing it with a brilliant humor, and from Kiarostami the profound commitment with his country's traditions and willingness to put them on stage in a very respectful but modern way.
Building this film from all these dichotomies allows me to talk about life itself and the fictions that inhabit our culture and my own life. The theme of virtuality that runs through the film comes from a visceral feeling of my own about gender violence in my country and the media, that toxic and lethal relationship. But also from a very liberating perspective where play and fiction can make us manage reality and hard topics in a different way. All the experiences that the actresses interpret are experiences that happened to me in my own flesh, which in the end is the flesh of all. Motivated by a self-portrait work, I reveal myself as the author and a character of this staging. My fears and doubts dialogue with other women. The limit between the imaginary and the real are blurred, both in the very making of the film, and in its content. This circle, beyond being a movie, is an aid to transformation through dialogue, a very important part of my life. Participating in the plurinational meeting of women in Argentina and living in this country for 6 years gave me the experience and the strength of the collective and of the organized dialogue. In this project we are documenting the first adaptation of this meeting, in the context of Veracruz.
The film is expanding my creative process as I can explore more deeply my capacity to build a complex story between so many characters and being able to manage them all in a deep loving way. I'm entering a new world of working for a longer period of time with them and also with my own testimony. I desire to achieve a riveting performance, that is the center of the film, the big day, the real conversation we will have. All the previous preparation we will have with the set, the technical aspects and the great work with actresses will be surrendered to the improvisation and the unknown. In the end, what pleasures and challenges me the most is the experiment itself and the amount of uncertain scenes that will occur even with our given structure.
With this challenge, of course I can see some failures or collapse of expectations, but even so, I see it as a nutritive material for the film, when the film addresses cinema itself. I learned this in other great movies and I adapted it to myself. I love seeing how cinema can fail, stagings can fail, dialogues, locations, characters that do the opposite as planned, all of this is beautiful if you use it to your advantage, and as part of the story. I've already incorporated it in my short film Griots where my main character doesn't want to be filmed.
Close up from Kiarostami is a great example of this, a fascinating story of failure. In my movie I can see something could go “wrong” with improvisation, timing, shyness, even myself getting overwhelmed by being in front of the camera, and I feel excited about what could happen. The way of filming the movie as a one time performance is also the show itself, and for us, a great motivation and challenge that we know we can achieve if we gather the right support.