22. ilb 07. - 17.09.2022

Sabina Berman

Portrait Sabina Berman
© Sofía Elena Ayala Scorz

Sabina Berman, of East European and Jewish origin, was born in Mexico City in 1955. Her father had emigrated to Mexico in the 1930s when Lázaro Cárdenas was the President of the country. Sabina Berman started writing while still a student of Mexican Literature and Psychology at the Universidad Latinoamericana. Her plays were awarded the Premio Nacional de Teatre four times. She has also been an actress and a producer, and has written various screenplays, including for the film »Backyard«, which was a nominee for the Academy Award for the Best Foreign Language Film in 2010. »Backyard« deals with a series of assassinations of women in the Nothern Mexican border town of Ciudad Juárez. The dead bodies of 370 females were found there between 1993 and 2005, 400 to 600 women are still missing. And yet, despite international pressure, the authorities have never solved the crimes.

Sabina Berman’s texts are characterized by a feminist stance and discuss the complexity and the many layers of gender relations. In her plays dating from the 1990s, including »Villa y una mujer desnuda« (1993; tr: City and a Naked Woman), »Crisis« (1996) and »La grieta« (1997; tr: The Crack), she deals with the power relations within relationships and in politics at large. Berman wrote about the crisis in Mexico, which culminated in the Massacre of Tlatelolco on 2 October 1968, when 300 student protesters were killed by the police just before the beginning of the Olympic Games. The figures in her plays often lack a clear shape, which is the author’s particular way of questioning the determination of identities. Her style is marked by humour and irony, scepticism with respect to the official discourse and an attempt to transcend the lines of theatrical and linguistic conventions.

Her novel »La mujer que buceó dentro del corazón del mundo« (Eng. »The Woman who Dived into the Heart of the World «, 2012) was published in 2010. Based on her experience that handicapped people have »different capabilities« Sabina Berman tells the story of an autistic woman who becomes a successful business woman. »She does not live according to standard rules. 75 percent of her is connected with nature. Only 25 percent of her attention is dedicated to human beings. I admire and envy her.« Her heroine, once a rather scruffy person, inherits a tuna factory and finally controls the company with her ideas concerning sustainable fishing, in order to protect the oceans from overfishing. The book has been published in 25 countries. In addition to her work as a writer, Berman hosts the Televisión Aztec programme »Sha la lá« interviewing artists, politicians and scientists. She also writes a weekly column for the journal »Proceso«. Sabina Berman lives in Mexico City.

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