Glendale College's Student Magazine
Wednesday July 26th 2017

Latinx Film Festival: Changing the Conversation about LGBTQ Cinema

Four years ago, there were zero film and art festivals in the country dedicated to queer Latinx, the gender-neutral term for the Latin American community. That changed with the fourth annual CineArte Latinx Queer Festival, which ran at the Los Angeles LGBTQ Center from April 21-23.

CineArte provides a space for queer Latinx people to tell their stories and help the audience understand the complexities and diverse cultural history of this community through visual art and film.

Artists from around the L.A. area who identify as trans, queer, gender non-conforming, lesbian, and gay put their work on display. “We try to program as many L.A. artists as possible,” Karla Legspy, program director, explained. “We try to get art that are community is making. LA art brings people to the festival.”

This event brought together people from all L.A. to learn, engage, and build relationships.

Before the feature film, attendees watched screenings of short films that were submitted. “Mateo,” by Nancy Mejia was shown. The film is about Mateo, a young man who experiences violence throughout his upbringing by his parents. He has to be the role model for his younger sister. Finally, he separates himself from the violence and helps his mother and his sister start a new life.

“Conversations about violence within a household is never talked about,” Mejia said. “I wanted to highlight this experience to show any audience member that you are not alone in this experience and that there are resources available.”

MATEO from Nancy Mejía on Vimeo.

The feature film, “Bruising for Besos,” is an intimate character study of Yoli—a personable Chicana lesbian desperately trying to make a familia with a queer/trans/ people of color scene here in L.A.

This film began as a play written, directed, produced, and starring Adelina Anthony. In premiering this play, Anthony received an L.A. Weekly nomination for Best Solo Performance.

“Anthony, in the L.A. Chicano world of art, is sort of pretty amazing. She is pretty revered,” said Jon Imparato, director of the LGBT Center. The film adaptation is very distinct from the play, but still keeps to the essence of breaking silence around domestic violence and how it shapes the protagonist, Yoli.

The audience had rave reviews about “Bruising for Besos.” Audience members were able to ask questions that helped bring the issues in the movie to light. It also made attendees reflect on their own experiences that are similar to the movie.

“I liked how the girl’s abusive relationship was tied into her past abusive relationship with her father and mother,” said Helen Toloza, a member of the audience. “Also, how she basically had to go through bullshit to be enlightened and realize that she had to break free from the crazy girlfriend and go back to her mother to attempt to forgive her.”

Another very personal story was told through the eyes of an undocumented gay immigrant named Fernando. In the short film, “Undocumented Tales,” Fernando is a server from Mexico who works in Los Angeles. Not only does he have to hide the fact that he is undocumented to protect himself from being deported, but he also is forced to hide his sexual orientation from his family and friends.

On the final day of the festival, the short film “Afuera” was displayed. This film follows an undocumented trans woman who is forced into the sex trade to support herself due to her legal status. Her partner is left to give her an ultimatum with consequences unbeknownst to him.

CineArte is bringing conversations that are rarely talked about outside the LGBTQ Latinx community. It also allows for families and allies to recognize the struggles and the beauty of the queer community.

The intersectionality of being queer and Latinx is beautiful, but comes with its own experiences and struggles. “As an LGBT center, some people shy away from the uncomfortable, but we welcome it. If is something we want to tell our community, we go for it,” said Imparato. This festival is more than just a festival, it is a social movement that gathers community and stories together.

Look for next year’s line-up at the L.A. LGBT Center

About Nicholas Martinez
Nicholas Martinez is a journalism major at Glendale Community College.

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