ShortList 2019: How ‘Las Del Diente’ Tackles Women’s Fertility Issues in a Cartoon With Teeth

Ana Perez Lopez’s began the film as a director’s thesis project for Cal Arts but soon realized she wanted to delve deeper into the subject

When Ana Perez Lopez began working on “Las Del Diente” (“The Ones With Teeth”) as her thesis film for Cal Arts, she started researching how to freeze your eggs and what that might cost. She had interviewed a bunch of experts who both supported and objected to the procedure, but felt that everyone had an agenda.

So she posted to her Facebook to get some real perspectives on fertility from people she knew. “I got three or four responses,” she said, “and then one of them was the woman who talked about having the tooth in her ovary.”

And that’s how she learned about teratomas, a kind of tumor comprised of tissues that’s usually not present at the site — according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, teratomas “might often contain teeth.” And that helped fuel her Spanish-language short “Las Del Diente,” a finalist in TheWrap’s ShortList Film Festival. Perez Lopez explained that having teeth in Spanish also means being brave, giving her title a double meaning.

In the film, three women talk about freezing their eggs and the way the “female body is a business” from a very early age in a woman’s life. The heavy, controversial topic is set to wild animation and music accentuated by loud drums.

“I thought their stories were interesting and raised questions instead of answering them,” Perez Lopez said of her subjects. “I didn’t know the answer to what we should do with maternity right now. I just know it’s not where it should be. I was trying to figure out a way for people watch to the film and people to have questions without me giving a strict answer.”

The women Perez Lopez initially interviewed for her thesis project weren’t available when she wanted to record them for her short, so she ended up asking her friends to read from a script. When it didn’t sound natural enough, she just asked them to speak about the topic from their points of view — and “Las Del Diente” was born.

“It was a very fluid process, but a very long one, and I decided to do it with animation because with animation, you can make up whatever world you want to,” she explained. “It was a good way to condense it and make it appealing.”

Perez Lopez said her short speaks to a bigger issue: that many people have opinions of what women should do with their bodies and are judgmental about decisions that aren’t theirs to make. “I just think from the moment you are born, until the moment you die, so many people have opinions of what you should do with your body,” she said.

“Freezing your eggs is a patch to a bigger society problem,” she continued. “These topics are giving people anxiety and people, not women, have opinions about it and everyone is very judgmental about people’s choices. I was more like, ‘Women deserve to have the career and have kids whenever they want to have them!’”

Watch the film above. Viewers can also screen the films at any time during the festival at and vote through Aug. 21.