News / Film

Mexican-American Debutantes Dress Up Like Martha Washington in 'Las Marthas' Documentary

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Every February a huge celebration takes place in Laredo, Texas in honor of George Washington’s birthday. A month-long fiesta including reenactments and parades, the main event is an exclusive, invite-only colonial ball hosted by the Society of Martha Washington. Wearing elaborate, intricate gowns worth thousands of dollars, Mexican American debutantes dress as figures from the American Revolution and reenact a birthday party hosted by Martha Washington. Yes, you read right. Mexicans dress up like American revolutionaries in a part of the United States that used to be Mexico.

A new documentary, Las Marthas, airing on PBS on President’s Day (February 17) follows these young debutantes during their intense preparations for the ball. While untangling the origins of this very peculiar celebration the director, Cristina Ibarra, somehow makes us realize that it’s really not so strange. Ahead of the film’s national broadcast we caught up with Cristina to talk about her favorite novela, colonial bloomers, and what it was like growing up on the U.S.-Mexico border.