How journaling has shaped the way I watch films

Words and artwork by Valery Zulaica


A couple of years ago, when studygram and bu-jo accounts boomed on Pinterest and Insta I completely fell in love with the idea of creating your own ways of visually organising your ideas. Plus, I watched too many movies and my brain is the size of a nut so I have a TERRIBLE memory meaning I couldn’t keep track of everything I watched. That is when I decided to create my own movie journal.

What I do is this: I have a journal where I write about every single movie I watch. All of them. Good or bad. I put technical aspects like the director and writers, country, actors, quotes, and a little opinion about it. I let the creative side of me take over and decorate the page depending on the colours of the movie or other random things. My only rule is that I cannot skip any movie - if I saw it, then I must write about it, even if I hated it.

So this is where I try to get thoughtful: If I’m going to spend an entire page of my journal on a movie, then I try to, at least, choose a good one. I’ve gotten more and more selective (or picky) with what I watch over the 3 years I’ve written about movies.

It may be out of pure laziness or selfishness not wanting to watch a ‘’bad’’ movie just because I cannot stand the idea of taking 30-40 mins writing a page about it. I limit myself sometimes by watching relatively few movies, but I try to make them count - choosing quality over quantity.

Of course, that doesn’t mean I only watch arthouse or super intense artsy dramas. I just pick whatever I’m really drawn to, not something that everyone tells me to watch, not even classic cult films. If I just feel like giving it a go, then I do it. And that is something incredibly valuable I’ve learned: that we shouldn’t make ourselves feel obligated to watch things. I’ve found that the best way to enjoy something is to just do it when you actually feel like it!

Moving on, I’ve noticed something else too. Writing by hand the name of all the directors and writers of the films made me notice just how many of them were men,

or straight men,

or straight, white males,

or straight, white, American males.

The other day I started watching First Man by Demian Chazelle (whom I really respect) and felt terribly uncomfortable. As much as I love the director, the cinematography or even the freaking moon I felt exhausted seeing a story made by a man about a man. It probably wasn’t the movie, just the accumulated exhaustion of watching films by men, about men. 

It’s been barely a few months since it hit me, as much as I’m trying to carefully select the things I watch, I’m not doing enough to get the true experience of cinema and seeing the reality of others represented, that is the reality of something other than American straight white males.

Today I’m doing my best to expand my horizons and look for new experiences in movies. I’m sure I can do much more to support women, non-binary, minorities, foreign artists, etc.  And it is so simple yet so extremely powerful to support things made by people different than ourselves.

We have the option to watch movies that make us relate so much to the characters or situations, or we have the option to see things we could never imagine by people nothing like us in places nothing like the ones we’ve seen. And both options are completely valid.

Some of the most heart-warming movies and characters I’ve related to the most were made by women. Some of the most distant experiences from my life I’ve seen are foreign films from countries that are unbelievably far from my small suburban town in the outskirts of Mexico City.

My hope is to fill my journals with diversity, with Art made all around the world by all kinds of different people. I can’t let the pages of my life be filled with the names of the same people.


The author of this post, Valery Zulaica, is 19 years old and is currently studying Visual Arts in Mexico City. When she is not writing about movies or too busy with school, Valery paints, take photos, makes digital collages and practices her lettering with Taylor Swift song lyrics. 

You can follow Valery's movie journal on Instagram here - @v.moviejournal - or her account where she posts her art here: @zulaicav.