One could frame the recent string of accomplished LGBTQ Latino films as a movement, but that would discount the variety of brilliant Latino movies that have been released in the past but are still struggling for wider acclaim. So lovers of film take note, as here are four new LGBTQ Latino films to put - and keep - on your radar.
André Antônio’s delicately decorated debut film "The Cult" signals the arrival of a bold new Brazilian talent, evoking the moody designs of visionary filmmakers such as Sofia Coppola, Stanley Kubrick and Wes Anderson. Set in 2040, after most citizens have moved to colonies on now-occupied planets, the film centers on a fashion-obsessed young gay man who spends his time idly flipping through Proust novels and art magazines in his stylish apartment within the mostly deserted city of Recife. When not lounging at home with wine or tea, he wanders the barely populated streets and cruises for gay hookups amidst the ruins. With its candid eye for beautiful photographic angles and irreverent sense of humor, "The Cult" also represents a purely gay aesthetic. Colorful campiness and thorny subtext are linked to create a perspective that is decidedly, and proudly, queer.
PLAZA DE LA SOLEDAD
This raw and poignant documentary depicts life-long prostitutes in Mexico City who are between 50 and 80 years old and captures the sense of community that resonates throughout their stories. Mexico-born Maya Goded, a photographer-turned-director, uses her camera as a tool for expression and internal struggle without any filmmaking trickery, allowing the women themselves to own their narratives and experiences they share. Goded is less concerned with scandalous stories and more interested in the strength and humor of the aging sex workers. "Plaza de La Soledad" is a call to how patient and compassionate filmmaking can convey the inner feelings of its subjects’ journeys. And, above all, Goded’s clear-eyed and honest lensing of the featured women proves that a picture is not only worth a thousand words but also a thousand emotions.
BRUISING FOR BESOS
Multi-hyphenate writer-director-actress Adelina Anthony’s feature debut proves that interesting Latina filmmaking is also happening in America, as witnessed by this Los Angeles-set, seductive Xicana and Puerto Rican-centric love story. After multiple troubled relationships, Yoli finds herself driven to pursue a Puerto Rican nurse, which sets off a string of difficult memories and vices from past romances. Featuring a cast of lesbian and trans individuals, the viscerally titled "Bruising for Besos" mixes English and Spanish as Yoli comes to terms with the queer and trans trauma that she’s faced while creating a path for catharsis and new beginnings not driven by fear. It conjures the joy of love and the perpetual angst of heartbreak that can come from falling in love. Balancing candid conversations between friends with sultry segments that exude sexy, red-hued bliss, "Bruising for Besos" is a powerful ode to reconciling your history in order to discover happiness and acceptance.
I PROMISE YOU ANARCHY
"I Promise You Anarchy" recalls the socially-relevant themes of Alfonso Cuarón’s "Y Tu Mamá También" in its evocative observation of youth, "bromance" and class, but not the repression that the Oscar-nominated 2002 film possessed. Driven by supremely confident direction from writer-director Julio Hernández Cordón, the film provides a refreshingly non-judgmental take on fluid sexuality as it explores a thoroughly contemporary view of friendship and love between anti-hero protagonists Miguel and Johnny, even though Johnny has a girlfriend. Authentically tapping into the scrappy, skater culture that exists on the streets and highways of Mexico City, the two become black market entrepreneurs and blood traffickers, exhibiting both the moxie and naivety that comes with inexperience in the real world. But as their plans to skirt the system proves overwhelming, they must confront the complex realization of what it means to be an adult in this world and how society favors those with the familial resources to survive unscathed.
Nick McCarthy is the operations manager at NewFest, an LGBTQ film and media arts organization, and has written for such publications as Slant Magazine, Time Out New York and The Film Experience.