Short films can pack as big a punch as their lengthier counterparts. Their stories may be quick, small even, but they can speak to larger themes and broader cultural conversations. In fact, their intimacy and locality can oftentimes add to their impact.
That’s precisely the case in two short films by Latinx filmmakers making their way onto the web. Committed to providing a voice to the diverse Latino community on public media throughout the United States, Latino Public Broadcasting (LPB) has partnered with the PBS Indies site to showcase two wonderful shorts Drowning and Vámonos.
As LPB Executive Director Sandie Viquez Pedlow put it, “Each of these films is the work of promising new Latino filmmakers and represent our longtime commitment to nurturing new talent. We’re also pleased to be producing more content for the digital space and proud to bring these three new works to PBS’s large and diverse online community.”
Drowning was written and directed by Ryan Velazquez, who was born in the Bay Area to Guatemalan father and a Chinese mother. Growing up biracial in a diverse socio-economic community has no doubt influenced his voice as a filmmaker. It explains the deeply felt empathy that runs through Drowning. This sunny and youthful short is a heartbreaking portrait of an overweight high schooler struggling to fit in. Representing the cruelty with which teenagers often treat those they feel are different, Drowning feels like what Glee’s PSA episodes hoped to be: a frank anti-bullying narrative anchored by a touching performance.
Vámonos, directed by Marvin Lemus, a Mexican-Guatemalan-American filmmaker, also centers on those often left outside looking in. The short, which was partly crowd-funded, centers on Hope, a young woman distraught after losing her girlfriend. But she cannot even grieve in peace when she knows her girlfriend’s mom will be burying her in a dress — an unthinkable outfit for those who knew and loved Mac for who she was. And so, she decides to take matters into her own hands. Darkly funny and very touching, Vámonos pushes back against long-standing Latino cultural attitudes toward the LGBT community, celebrating the beauty of butch lesbians.