La Mujer de Blanco (The Woman in White)
In the forest of a remote Mexican village, a girl saves her estranged little brother from a malevolent spirit.
Manuel Alexander VillarrealWriterWhat the Water Gave, Deathly, Found
Project Title (Original Language):La Mujer de Blanco
Project Type:Short Script
Genres:Fantasy, Drama, Family
Number of Pages:5
Country of Origin:United States
Manuel Villarreal is a Los Angeles based queer 1st gen Mexican-American writer-director with a flair for the fantastical and a penchant for stories concerning grief. His short, WHAT THE WATER GAVE — about a woman’s acceptance of her mother’s passing — premiered at the 2019 NewFilmmakers LA Video Project Festival. He was also a finalist in the Outfest Fusion One Minute Film festival for his short I'M STILL HERE.
Prior to directing, Manuel worked as an actor and starred various commercials, including Super Bowl ads for Carl’s Jr. and Kay Jewelers. He was nominated for the Irene Ryan Scholarship through the Kennedy Center Honors for his performance in JUAREZ.
In his short career, he’s directed esteemed character actors such as: Steve Eastin (Killers of the Flower Moon, Field of Dreams), Elena Campbell-Martinez (Vida, 15:17 to Paris) and Presciliana Esparolini (Mayans M.C., Cherry, NCIS Los Angeles).
Manuel holds a BA in Screenwriting from California State University, Northridge and an MFA in Directing from the American Film Institute. He is the recipient of the NALIP Emerging Content Creators Inclusion Scholarship.
From the moment my little brother started school, I bullied him. You see, I was also bullied and I think that subconsciously I was preparing him for the inevitable. It’s something that I’m deeply ashamed of and looking back I wish I’d been more nurturing as it has affected our relationship to this day.
La Mujer de Blanco explores how grief manifests itself in young children. Alma bullies her brother as a way to make him stronger, because he’s so sensitive. In her mind, tough love will facilitate his mourning like it has with her, but deep down she’s slowly being crushed by her grief.
My intention with la Mujer de Blanco’s character was to create a parallel between the physical act of hurting a child and the psychological harm Alma inflicts upon her brother. Though under a spell, la Mujer de Blanco believes that she’s showing grieving children mercy by taking them. I wanted both the redemption of Alma and la Mujer de Blanco to come from an act of love, because it’s the only emotion that has the power to heal.
Ultimately, I wrote this film to create a world where I did the one thing a big brother should do: protect his younger sibling. I hope that when he watches this film he forgives me for all the times I left him to fend for himself.