Must-See Latinx Movies Playing Outfest Fusion, LA’s LGBTQ People of Color Film Festival

Lead Photo: 'Retablo' film still courtesy of Outfest.
'Retablo' film still courtesy of Outfest.
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Outfest, the Los Angeles-based nonprofit organization dedicated to nurturing, showcasing, and protecting LGBT media, announced its lineup for the 2019 Outfest Fusion LGBTQ People of Color Film Festival, the only multicultural LGBTQ film festival of its kind. Befitting its mission, this year’s program features ample examples of what queer storytelling can look like in 2019. In addition to showing festival favorites like Rafiki and even upcoming series like Gregg Araki’s Now Apocalypse, Outfest Fusion is also showcasing a number of Latin American films worth checking out.

Winner of Venice’s Queer Lion Award, the Guatemala-set film José is the result of producer George F Robson and director Li Cheng’s anthropological survey of the lives of young gay men across twenty Latin American cities. What they came up with is an intimate neorealist story following José (Enrique Salanic), a 19-year-old who finds escape from his working-class existence in Guatemala City through hook-up apps and casual meetups. But that all changes when he meets Luis (Manolo Herrera), a migrant construction worker from coastal Itzapa, who dreams of a better life for them together. As their whirlwind romances threatens José’s close-knit bond with his mother and promises, perhaps, a chance for something bigger, this quiet drama captures contemporary gay life with aplomb.

Alvaro Delgado Aparicio‘s stunning first feature Retablo offers viewers insight into a small community in the Peruvian Andes. The film focuses on 14-year-old Segundo (Junior Béjar Roca) as his close relationship with his father, whose artisanal talents for creating retablos (vividly hand-painted folk altars) he so admires, begins to crumble. The love and affection that was so apparent between the two is broken once Segundo catches his father (Amiel Cayo) with another man, shattering everything he thought he knew about him and their family. Incorporating Spanish as well as Quechua, and lovingly shooting the gorgeous landscapes around these two men, Delgado Aparicio’s debut is not to be missed.

For something more fabulous, there’s Marie Losier’s documentary Cassandro, The Exotico! which follows Saúl Armendáriz, the titular luchador. As Cassandro, Armendáriz has made a career elevating the stock character of exótico from drag-clad machista stereotype to transcendent, rhinestone-studded hero. Shot in El Paso and Ciudad Juarez in lustrous 16mm, Marie Losier’s beautifully crafted documentary captures the grit and glam of Lucha Libre. For Cassandro, lucha is a kind of religion, his version of mass. Plus, as a gay man, he admits he loved the lycra, the showmanship, and, of course, the muscled men. Touching also on his darker past, including his addiction and recovery, Cassandro, The Exotico! gives a different look at what wrestling can look like. Bonus: the film will be preceded by Marcos Davalos‘ short film Dreamer, about a gay undocumented DREAMer who breaks into his high school auditorium to dance to his favorite Gloria Estefan song.

Moreover, you can catch the Latinx & Chill shorts program which features projects centered on teenage romance, road trips, the anxieties of being young and trans, and the thrills of rebelling against gender norms. With films from Venezuela, Brazil, and the United States, these shorts show a wide array of queer Latinx experiences, which speaks to Outfest Fusion’s commitment to offering audiences a chance to discover new voices and new stories.

Outfest Fusion runs March 1 – 5, 2019.