From East LA to São Paulo: New Film Series Brings Movies From the Latinx Diaspora to Milwaukee

Lead Photo: 'Ovarian Psycos' Courtesy of the Human Rights Watch Festival
'Ovarian Psycos' Courtesy of the Human Rights Watch Festival
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If you’ve been starving out in the Midwest for some quality cinema about the Latinx experience, Milwaukee Film has you covered. As part of this year’s Milwaukee Film Festival, they are introducing a new program, Cine Sin Fronteras, which aims to showcase the rich and vibrant Latinx diaspora around the world: including Latinx, Chicanx, Latin American, indigenous and Afro­Latinx communities.

Knowing they’d need some help assembling a worthy lineup, the local film organization hired Claudia Guzmán, the Sociocultural Program Manager for Student Involvement at the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee, and Jeanette Martín, the Assistant Director of the LGBT Resource Center at the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee, to co­-curate the program. And the resulting list lives up to its title. As Guzmán and Martín state, these projects “transcend boundaries and blur lines, embodying the spirit of the Latinx experience. They highlight and explore myriad facets of human identity and are not confined by genre, language, country of origin, race, ethnicity, age, gender, sexuality, or ability.”

Among the six films is festival standout Ovarian Psycos. This endlessly watchable documentary follows an all-womxn of color bike brigade that cycles for the purpose of healing their communities physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Armed with radical feminist ideas and building a strong community, the Psycos offer a fascinating vision of East Los Angeles that has no time for your gentrification efforts or your attempts to silence brown womxn. The group’s tagline really sums up the doc’s tone quite well: “Ovaries so big we don’t need no balls!”

The Milwaukee program is stacked with plenty of socially-conscious documentaries enhanced by their lush visuals: Death by a Thousand Cuts looks at the violent rift between Haitians and Dominicans on the border; Burden of Peace charts the entire tenure of Guatemala’s first female Attorney General to delve into the country’s political corruption and human rights violations; while Kings of Nowhere is a beautiful and elegiac look at a ghost town in Northern Mexico that pulsates with the threat of impending danger.

Thankfully, the programmers are also offering some more lighthearted and spirited fare. Sérgio Machado’s heartwarming The Violin Teacher tells the true story of a talented concert violinist who begins teaching music to the children of Heliopolis – Brazil’s largest favela; while Pepa San Martin’s Rara is that rare coming of age drama that feels wholly refreshing, tackling a young girl’s identity crisis against the backdrop of an unconventional family. So mark your calendars accordingly; there’s no shortage of great features showing at the fest, and there’s no reason to miss out on these gems.

Cine Sin Fronteras runs September 22-October 6, 2016.