Following the buzz of Tár, Maggie Contreras’ documentary Maestra follows several women from around the world as they compete in the only all-women competition for conductors. This ultra-competitive field is riddled with long-standing issues of sexism, and each participant is approaching the contest with fierce tenacity.
Through her efforts in profiling these women, Contreras reveals how childhood abuse, maternity discrimination, and gendered expectations have molded them as individuals. These disparate experiences paradoxically unite them in a common cause while distinguishing their priorities. One woman wonders whether she should start having children, while another wants to prove herself after being fired for being pregnant. In contrast to the wild gesticulations required of the competitors, Maestra is relatively laid back in its approach, taking time to familiarize us with each woman before the competition starts. Yet a palpable tension starts to build as the competitors are eliminated one by one, despite everyone being a champion.–– Jose Rodriguez