There’s a reason why San Francisco’s Frameline calls itself “the King of Queer Film Festivals.” The Bay Area fest, the largest LGBT film exhibition event in the world, is ringing in their fortieth year in style. Not only will they be showing the Looking film as their Closing Night Film — a fitting homecoming for the HBO show — but they’re kicking things off with the vibrant documentary Kiki — a fabulous look at the young POC-driven ballroom scene in New York. In other words, Frameline40 will begin and end with stories that speak to and about queer Latinos.
Thus, while you may want to seek out the wonderful gender-bending Swedish fantasy drama Girls Lost, the tearjerking Aussie AIDS film Holding the Man, and the Black Swan-esque Closet Monster among others, you most certainly don’t want to miss out on the bountiful crop of Latino and Latin American features and documentaries that the late June festival has to offer. (Not to mention the many short films being showcased.)
Whether you want to check out a French New Wave-inspired black and white gay-for-pay flick, a doc on the furry community, a backstage look at Madonna’s Blond Ambition backup dancers, or festival standouts like Desde allá, Te prometo anarquía, and Southwest of Salem, you’re sure to find something at Frameline40 that speaks to your interests. In the spirit of the diverse and welcoming community it hopes to embody, the fest is wonderfully inclusive. Knowing you’d need help figuring out what to be on the lookout for, Remezcla has you covered with a list of everything Latino in this year’s program.
San Francisco’s Frameline40 runs June 16 – 26, 2016.
Strike a Pose
This must-watch doc for Madonna fans features the familiar faces of José Gutierrez and Luis Camacho, the two Latino dancers from New York City who introduced the Queen of Pop to the practice of vogueing and who would later join her in the Blonde Ambition tour. Alongside Kevin, Oliver, Luis, Carlton, Jose, Gabriel and Salim, José and Luis are a diverse, impressionable group of young dancers whose lives were forever changed by Madonna’s iconic blonde ambition tour and its accompanying documentary, Truth or Dare. No longer swept up in the thrill of Madonna’s inarguable power, some found life – away from her influence – emotionally devastating and near impossible to navigate. Strike a Pose movingly revisits the men after years apart and provides us with a chance to learn about the emotional truth behind the glamorous facade.
Southwest of Salem: The Story of the San Antonio Four
Deborah S. Esquenazi is here telling the story of Elizabeth Ramirez, Cassandra Rivera, Kristie Mayhugh, and Anna Vasquez—four Latina lesbians who in 1994 were tried and convicted of a heinous assault on two young girls in a court case that was infused with homophobic prejudice and the Satanic Panic sweeping the nation at that time. Southwest of Salem is a fascinating true crime story that puts the trial of the San Antonio Four in context of their ongoing search for exoneration.
Te prometo anarquía
This is a tale of twisted adolescence, free love, and reprehensible crime that takes place on the streets of Mexico City. The feature follows a middle-class teen skateboard fanatic who carries on an illicit affair with the son of his family’s maid, who simultaneously carries on an affair with a young woman named Adri. In the tense shadow of this uncomfortable love triangle, the two spend their days skating, making love, doing drugs, and selling their blood on the black market, until the promise of easy cash finds them caught up in a shady scheme that goes way deeper than they could have ever expected.
UIO: Sácame a pasear
Starting her senior year of high school, Sara is ready for adventure—especially as a way to break away from her overbearing mother. Enter: Andrea, her new schoolmate with whom she starts an intimate relationship that’ll force her to come to terms with herself. Boasting a pop-friendly soundtrack and a sun-dappled look at young love, Rueda’s film promises to be a lovely entry to the LGBT canon.
Nunca vas a estar solo
Based on the real-life attack suffered by one of his fans at the hands of Neo-Nazis, Nunca vas a estar solo is the directorial debut of Chilean pop star Alex Anwandter. At the heart of the story is Pablo, a young boy studying dance with high hopes of becoming a star. He lives with his widowed father and has a girlfriend though he often finds time to sneak out to sleep with a neighbor boy. All that changes when he’s the victim of a homophobic attack which leads his dad to take justice in his own hands.
Paying homage to the French New Wave, director Daniel Armando’s black and white feature film weaves the stories of several men in New York City who navigate a world of interlocking intimacies in a city that never sleeps.
Bruising for Besos
In this beautifully shot love story, Yoli is a seductive queer xicana artist who finds great passion with Daña, an alluring Puerto Rican nurse. But their growing intimacy stirs up their own troubled histories. Can Yoli break the cycle, face the past, and create something new for herself?
The New York City ballroom scene, iconically captured on screen in Jennie Livingston’s 1990 film Paris is Burning, gets a much needed update in Sara Jordenö ebullient documentary. The film focuses on the “kiki” scene, the youth-led and socially conscious subculture of the ball scene (where LGBT* individuals walk the runway and vogue in fabulous dance battles) and really highlights the African-American and Latino youth that are blending their creativity with a welcome dose of activism.
Looking: The Movie
Picking up where the short-lived HBO show left off, this feature-film serves as the conclusion to the story of Patrick (Jonathan Groff) and his fellow San Francisco friends (Murray Bartlett, Frankie J. Alvarez), and gives closure to his his relationships with Richie (Raul Castillo) and Kevin (Russell Tovey).
Sarah is a child of divorce. She shuttles between her father (now living with his new wife) and her mother (living with her lesbian partner). While her father asks her whether she’s been picked on given her mother’s “sexual choice,” she gets warned at school that she may turn out to be gay given that some of her schoolmates believe it to be hereditary. Amidst custody squabbles and coming-of-age revelations, Rara marks a strong debut by Pepa San Martín.
Delving into the oft-misunderstood world of furries, Dominic Rodriguez’s captivating documentary introduces its audience to men and women in the United States that identify as “furries”—from androgynous dog-identified eccentric “Boomer,” to suburban mom “Freya,” to furry sex toy manufacturer “Varka” of Bad Dragon. Wishing to push back against ready-made “it’s a sex fetish” narrative while also openly admitting that sex and sexuality play a role in the community, Fursonas is an immersive experience unlike no other.
Set in the leafy Midwestern town of Akron, Ohio, this feature follows Benny Cruz (Texan native Matthew Frias) and Christopher (Edmund Donovan) as two young men falling in love with one another during their first year in college. But once they decide to take their idyllic romance on the road to Florida for spring break, Benny and Christopher learn they share a connection to a tragedy from years before—will their relationship endure this jarring revelation?
This uplifting and rollicking documentary follows the Ovarian Psycos Cycle Brigade, a new generation of women of color in East Los Angeles who are building a queer and trans inclusive community together by putting their feminist ideals in motion with raucous, irreverent activism, fighting the violence they’ve lived with all their lives, and hoping to make a difference. Through the personal stories of the crew’s rabble-rousing founder, Xela de la X, activist, poet M.C., and single mother; street artist and original Ovarian Psyco, Andi Xoch, and a bright-eyed young woman from the neighborhood, Evelyn (Evie), the film traces how the “Ovas” emerged from the diverse, youthful, Latino, working class, immigrant neighborhoods of Boyle Heights and East Los Angeles, a community situated within the historic legacy of the Chicano/a Civil Rights Movement that emerged from L.A. in the late 1960s.
The winner of the Golden Lion at the 2015 Venice Film Festival, Vigas’ Caracas-set film follows the unlikely relationship between Armando, an older man and Elder, a malandro from the streets. One lured by youth, the other by money, the two men form a tender if fragile couple that will force them both to grapple with the world they live from day to day.
Gorgeously shot in black and white and nodding to Robert Mapplethorpe (whose photo for Patti Smith’s album cover for Horses serves as inspiration for the project), Suárez’s poetic film circles around four artistically-minded characters: an ambitious photographer, a gorgeous model, a sullen DJ, and a wealthy patron of the arts who is dying of AIDS. As both an homage to the famed American photographer and a critique of modern Cuba, Caballos casts a longing spell on its viewers with striking imagery and curious wit.
Upon discovering his 11-year-old son Xavier’s attraction to boys, Nicolas follows the growth of his son through their shared love of music.
We’ve Been Around – S.T.A.R.
Empowered by their participation in the Stonewall Riots, Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera fought back against the bourgeois, white gay liberation movement. In order to advocate for trans people, people of color, and the poor, they formed New York City’s S.T.A.R.—the Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries.
Vogueing: The Message
Voguing: The Message traces the roots of this gay, Black and Latino dance form, which appropriates and plays with poses and images from mainstream fashion. Voguing competitions parody fashion shows and rate the contestants on the basis of movement, appearance and costume. This tape is a pre-Madonna primer that raises questions about race, sex and subcultural style.
The powerful Vessels (winner of the prestigious 2015 Iris Prize for Best Narrative Short Film) follows Diamond, a young Latina transgirl, as she seeks gender confirmation by visiting a hermana who is a “pumper.”
When Mac, a young butch Latina dies, her novia, Hope, must overcome personal grief in order to respectfully send Mac off into the afterlife as she would’ve wanted, in the ride-or-die inspired Vámonos.
This is Me: From the Bathroom, Episode 3
Sometimes a person just needs a place to pee! No one knows that better than trans entertainer-activists Rocco Kayiatos and Mariana Mar. The duo reclaim public restrooms as gender neutral while cracking wise (and wisely) about the issues surrounding today’s controversial bathroom politics.
This film shares the inspiring story of Alejandra, who always knew deep down inside that she was a chola, not a cholo.
This short documentary follows a 16-year-old transgender Latina struggling with both school and a mother who prays for her to be someone else. Luckily, she finds mentors and a family of choice who enable her to thrive.
Exploring the intersection of gender identity, immigration, and health, Afuera finds an undocumented transgender woman making sacrifices to live as the woman she always was.