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In writer/director Ramón Salazar's flamboyant musical comedy, Marieta (Mónica Cervera, El Crimen Perfecto) is a narcoleptic transsexual who can't wait to get rid of her eight inches. Whenever she falls asleep she dreams up lavish musical numbers in which she stars—as a real woman. Though a handsome man (Pablo Puyol) falls in love with her, she has to rely on her adopted family of fellow misfits (Rossy de Palma, Miguel O'Dogherty, Concha Galán, Najwa Nimri) to support her when she becomes torn between love and her desire to finally make her dream come true.

 The Size of the Talent


The inspiration for 20 Centimeters came from watching all those glorious musicals that made stars out of Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, Elvis, Marisol, Cyd Charisse and Judy Garland. I certainly wanted to create a film that honored the movie musical genre.

We intended to incorporate the drama of Marieta’s life into a musical comedy by combining the colorful stories of a prostitute with a dreamer who, in the midst of struggle, finds creative ways to survive. Society normally would view these characters as “losers” but I see them as strong, passionate “winners” who pool all their resources together to obtain their dreams.

In a way, the musical numbers represent her psyche because, on the surface, Marieta isn’t a cultured person. But she follows her intuition and in her dreams, Marieta’s fantasies are the result of her cultural influences.

Mónica Cervera is the star of 20 Centimeters. I wrote this musical especially for her. She was my inspiration before, during and after making the film. I don’t believe that anyone could have interpreted the character of Marieta with the same devotion, passion and versatility. And we made the film the old-fashion way, by having Mónica do her own singing and dancing. I guess in a way, I see Mónica as an icon who is ready for her moment in the spotlight.

And in honoring my icons, I directed Mónica to embrace the personas of great divas like Liza Minnelli, Marisol, Marilyn Monroe, Ann-Margret, Marlene Dietrich, the Warhol Factory girls and even a little bit of Mick Jagger. She certainly was up to the task but also brought her own special uniqueness to the role.

In making the film, I tapped into influences that sparked emotional memories for me. The “ingredients” are quite diverse: famed Spanish composer Augusto Algueró, the films of Vincente Minnelli, the rock of Freddie Mercury, the best stage moments of Madonna and a good dash of Alaska & Dalida.

I also wanted to pay homage to the pure-blooded energy of choreographer Jerome Robbins plus add a little bit of Fellini for good measure. You’ll also find a fusion of inspiration from Michelangelo Antonioni’s La Notte, the photography of Nan Goldin and Diane Arbus, the lifestyle of Brazil, danceable pop music, Jacques Demy, MGM musicals, lyricist Arthur Freed and even shades of Bye Bye Birdie.

In fact, my two favorite movie musicals are West Side Story because of Jerome Robbins and All That Jazz because Bob Fosse is simply the best!

I humbly raise many glasses to toast all the artists who inspired me to make 20 Centimeters.