Every year, June is celebrated as LGBT Pride Month to honor the 1969 Stonewall Riots in New York City that set off the gay rights movement in the United States. Plus, there’s all those parades and parties. If you’re already exhausted from partying hard and marching harder, then sit back and relax on the couch. Here are ten Latino queer films you can enjoy at home. There’s nothing wrong with being an armchair revolutionary once in a while.
Hoje eu quero voltar sozinho
Brazil’s official submission for the Best Foreign Language Film category for the 2015 Academy Awards, this dramatic romance stars Ghilherme Lobo as Leonardo, a blind teenager who wants to study abroad but has one big obstacle, his overprotective mother. When new kid Gabriel shows up at school, drawing the attraction of both he and his best girlfriend, Leonardo’s world is turned upside down. A jubilant portrait of young gay love, this assured debut feature tenderly parses the terrain of growing up different in more ways than one. The film won two major awards at the Berlin International Film Festival this year and has been screened across the world at a number of LGBT film festivals, including L.A. Outfest and the Lesbian and Gay Film Festivals in New York, San Francisco, Seattle and Toronto.
A big score is the focus of Piñeyro’s sexy thriller set in a stylish, Mad Men-era 1960s in which lookers Cuervo, Angel, and Nene plot to pull off a major heist along with the help of a constellation of crooked characters. When the heist goes wayward and several cops are shot the trio makes a getaway for Uruguay and the tight crew, all energy and excitement when planning their caper but now at loose ends, starts to lose their bearings. Standard crime thriller territory, you might think, but for the fact that Angel and Nene are gay lovers known as the ‘twins” and Cuervo brings his own sexual intensity along with his hottie girlfriend Vivi, and BTW all of this is based on a true story. So like most true stories, trouble enters the picture—Nene and Angel’s relationship starts to fall apart from the strain of multiple angles—Nene’s difficulty in confronting his own sexuality, and Angel’s possible schizophrenia—and oh yeah, in case we forget the police are still after them all and are finally closing in. Sexy, stylish, complex and thrilling Plata quemada is no waste of your hard-earned plata.
Winner of the World Cinema Audience Award at Sundance 2010, Contracorriente dealt sensitively and elegantly with the dilemma faced by those who find themselves in love with two people at the same time. When those loved ones are of different sexes, the emotions become even more conflicted. And when one of them is pregnant with child – your child – a whole host of other factors come into play. It is Miguel, a young fisherman on the northern coast of Peru, who finds himself torn between the duty and affection he feels for his wife, Mariela, who is carrying his baby, and the sheer desire provoked by the enigmatic figure of Santiago, his male lover. The film resisted the urge to descend into telenovela-style histrionics and instead crafted a tender and honest story of how decent people arrive in such situations. Few films have crafted such an empathetic portrayal of adultery.
Mosquita y Mari
Featuring intimate camera angles and a lilting soundtrack to make US indie filmmakers swoon, Mosquita y Mari is the low-key and personal tale of two young Latinas, Yolanda and Mari, whose burgeoning affection develops under the domineering glare of family tradition. What begins as a friendship energised by the rebellious spirit of adolescence soon becomes something deeper as the girls’ mutual journey allows both to discover their true self. If that sounds corny, the film is anything but, with supreme performances from the two leads. The overriding message is one of positivity and unity, where the decisions we make are ours and ours alone. Not that that stops everyone else from sticking their beak in where it’s unwanted.
Joven y Alocada
Daniela is a 17 year-old who falls in love with both a guy and a girl. She juggles the relationships, trying to avoid one from finding out about the other. Daniela documents all her sexual exploits in a blog that develops a huge following. The film, Joven y Alocada — taking its name from the real-life blog it is based on — is playful, frenetic, and exuberant, mimicking teenaged Daniela’s explosive sexual urges. A barrage of images, graphics, on-screen text, pictures, cartoons, and clips of porn movies put you inside Daniela’s blog, immersed in her virtual world of instant messages, blog comments, emails, and anonymous encounters. It’s a coming-of-age story that deals with female sexuality in a frank way that’s rarely seen in film.
Gun Hill Road
Like the Bronx avenue from which it takes its name, this 2011 drama bisects the urban sprawl to delve into the web of social complexities that defines New York. The plot’s initial pathway is a familiar one: Enrique is released from the slammer and attempts to rebuild his relationship with the adolescent son he knows only vaguely. He soon finds out that his son Michael is transgender and has been gradually transforming into Vanessa. Set amid the kind of environment all-too-regularly portrayed in film as a tough-talking den of seething machismo, Rashaad Ernesto Green creates a compelling storyline that challenges stereotypes to reflect the pressures faced by many young people today. The excellent acting was capped off when Harmony Santana became the first transsexual actor nominated for a major US award for her performance in the film.
An ex-con tries to stay on the straight and narrow; it’s a well-trodden narrative which here gets transplanted to S.F.’s “low and slow” cholo headquarters: the Mission District. Che Rivera is a rehabilitated alcoholic and reformed criminal who nowadays gets his kicks cruising around town in his lowrider. His past mistakes mean he is eager to ensure his son Jes avoids going down the same path. But Jes has his own concerns (mostly about his sexuality), which will force Che to reassess his prejudices and role as a father. The film was commended for promoting a strong environmental message thanks to green product placement throughout and a plot that focuses on initiatives like converting lowrider engines to run on biodiesel (In California, even the cholos are green.)
El niño pez
Based off her own novel, director/screenwriter/producer Lucía Puenzo tells the story of Lala (Inés Efron), an Argentinian teenager, who is in love with her Payaguayan maid she calls La Guayi (Mariela Vitale). With a dream of running away to live together, Lala and La Guayi hatch a plan to steal money and find a new life in Paraguay. But when La Guayi’s past come back to haunt her, their dream scenario is put on hold indefinitely. Nominated for 10 Argentinian Oscars, the thriller picked up its sole win for Vitale’s performance as a new actress. It was also nominated for Best Film, Actress and Director.
El ultimo verano de la Boyita
This coming-of-age tale from director/writer/producer Julia Solomonoff follows a young girl named Jorgelina (Guadalupe Alonso) who goes off to stay on the countryside with her father. While there, she develops a friendship with local farm boy Mario (Nicolás Treise), which soon turns into young love. One day, returning from a horse ride, she discovers a bloodstain on Mario’s saddle and another one on his trousers. Jorgelina tries to understand, but Mario, ashamed and insecure, has no clue of why he is not like the other boys. When the children’s parents try and put a stop to their friendship, Jorgelina decides she will have to do something to keep the two together.
This Sergio Tovar Velarde drama from México, which was nominated for an Ariel Award (Best Supporting Actor – Alonso Echánove), is separated into four stories about the relationships between males. In one narrative, an 11-year-old boy struggles to keep his infatuation with his male cousin a secret from his family. In another, two male friends reunite and begin a relationship, although one of them is fearful of someone finding out. In the third, a romance between two lovers is put on the brink when another man enters the picture and creates a love triangle. Finally, an older gentleman attempts to raise enough money to bring a fantasy to fruition and purchase the services of a young male prostitute for the night.