Bad Hair

(Pelo malo)
Mariana Rondón | Drama, Fiction

2013 | 93 minutes | Venezuela

A nine-year-old boy’s preening obsession with straightening his hair elicits a tidal wave of homophobic panic in his hard-working mother, in this tender but clear-eyed coming-of-age tale.


A nine-year-old boy’s preening obsession with straightening his hair elicits a tidal wave of homophobic panic in his hard-working mother, in this tender but clear-eyed coming-of-age tale.

Junior is a beautiful boy, with big brown eyes, a delicate frame, and a head of luxurious dark curls. But Junior aches to straighten those curls, to acquire a whole new look befitting his emerging fantasy image of himself as a long-haired singer. As the opportunity approaches to have his photo taken for the new school year, that ache turns into a fiery longing. Junior’s mother, Marta (Samantha Castillo), is barely hanging on. The father of her children has died, she recently lost her job as a security guard, and she now struggles to put a few arepas on the table for Junior and his baby brother.

"Junior doesn’t even know yet what it means to be gay, but the very notion prompts Marta to set out to “correct” Junior’s condition before it fully takes hold. This is a story of people doing what they feel they have to, partly out of fear, but also out of love." – Diana Vargas, Toronto International Film Festival.


"Bold and intelligently perceptive film... Rondón's enthralling Bad Hair certainly challenges your prejudices; your thoughts on Junior's identity after watching this provocative and gripping film may very well be a reflection of such. That was director Rondón's intentions, after all, accomplished with aplomb. Buoyed by instinctive performances (especially the powerful Samantha Castillo as Junior's mother Marta) and an unnerving score, Bad Hair may just be this year's festival foreign sleeper hit." — Vanessa Martinez, IndieWire

"Rondón (Postcards From Leningrad) does a superb job of handling Junior's embryonic instincts, partly manifested by a pre-sexual attraction to a kiosk vendor he spies from his window." — Jay Weissberg, Variety

"The main attraction at this year's San Sebastián, where it took home the top award, Mariana Rondón's Pelo Malo smartly draws from Italian neorealism to create an intimate, sparely successful depiction of hardship during childhood and sexual identity." — Pedro Ponte, Twitch

"The most endearing film I saw out of 36 films [at the Toronto International Film Festival] was Bad Hair." — Kent Turner,

"Bad Hair is a riveting and gripping domestic drama that simmers to a boil and it is heartbreaking in many ways. Rondón manages to capture both the wide-eyed innocence of childhood and the grating sound of that innocence scraping against the harsh realities of economically oppressive urban life." — Brandy Dean, Pretty Clever Films

Main credits

Rondón, Mariana (screenwriter)
Rondón, Mariana (film director)
Ugás, Marité (film producer)
Ugás, Marité (editor of moving image work)
Lange, Samuel (actor)
Castillo, Samantha (actor)
Zambrano, Samuel Lange (actor)
Benites, Beto (actor)
Ramos, Nelly (actor)
Sulbarán, María Emilia (actor)

Other credits

Cinematographer, Micaela Cajahuaringa; editor, Marité Ugás; music, Camilo Froideval.

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Toronto International Film Festival
San Sebastián International Film Festival - Golden Seashell Sebastiáne Award
Mar del Plata Film Festival - Best Director Best Screenplay
Montréal Festival of New Cinema - Acting Award
Thessaloniki Film Festival - FRIPESCI Award, Bronze Alexander
Rencontres Cinématographiques de CANNES - Best Film

DIRECTOR: Mariana Rondón


YEAR: 2013

GENRE: Drama, Fiction


COLOR / B&W: Color

GRADE LEVEL: College, Adults



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