As conversations about representation on the big screen keep raging on, it’s heartening to see organizations like Outfest making room for programming that aims to showcase work from LGBTQ people of color. Called Outfest Fusion, this year’s film festival will not only feature films from Japan, Mexico, India, and Venezuela, but workshops for up-and-coming filmmakers. For example, if you’re looking to get more insight into what it takes to break into TV writing, you won’t want to miss the aptly-titled Masterclass (“QPOC Writers on Writing & Pitching”) which will boast the very funny Michelle Badillo, a story editor from Netflix’s One Day At A Time as well as Bronx-native (and creator of the upcoming series Pose) Steven Canals. Or perhaps you want to find out how to channel your own ideas into a feature film? Then join Latinx filmmakers Kase Pena, Henry Alberto, and Abel Soto in their “Finding Your Story” workshop to get tips on what they’ve learned along the way.
But really, it’s all about the movies. If you’re in the Los Angeles area hoping to see some queer Latino films, we’ve hand-picked two features and three shorts you can’t miss at the annual fest. Though, there’s so much talent on display, you should make room to catch as many flicks as possible while you’re there. Check out our top picks below.
As an added bonus check out this event a few days before the fest kicks off. Outfest’s West Hollywood Series will host, on March 7, a live reading of Henry Alberto’s screenplay Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe. Set in 1987 in El Paso, Texas and based on the eponymous novel, this film follows two-teenage Mexican-American loners. This screenplay will be read live by a star-studded cast including: Liz Torres (Gilmore Girls), Ana Ortiz (Ugly Betty, Devious Maids), and Madison De La Garza (Desperate Housewives). Get tickets here.
Outfest Fusion runs March 9-13, 2018.
Elia Schneider’s Tamara recounts the real life story of Tamara Adrian, Venezuela’s first transgender person elected to that country’s National Assembly. The film takes the biopic route and lets us witness Tamara’s former life as Tomas, an unhappily married middle-class man with two kids, all the way up to when she finally presents herself as a woman to the world. It’s not an easy transition, sadly. She’s heckled at the school where she teaches, shamed by police officers who relish stripping her of her clothes, and even scolded by her own wife. But she doesn’t waver, knowing that she’s living her truth. Starring Luis Fernandez as Tamara, this groundbreaking project is a powerful document of the transphobia that trans women and men deal with every day.
Sueño en otro idioma
Martin arrives in a remote Mexican village to record a dying, ancient indigenous language. He finds the last two speakers of the language, but they refuse to speak to each other because of a 50 year grudge. Martin learns the surly Evaristo got into a fight with Isauro because they fell in love with the same woman. Now widowed, Evaristo continues to bitterly avoid the ailing Isauro. Martin and Evaristo’s granddaughter, Lluvia, work to convince the men to reconcile. Perplexed by their intensity when they meet, Martin realizes there is more to the story, and Lluvia finally reveals the secret behind the men’s entanglement. As Isauro’s health declines, Evaristo struggles to come to terms with his feelings, and strange bird calls from deep inside the jungle begin to stir, evoking the mythical origin of their ancestors. Distinctly enigmatic in tone, permeating the vibrations of the jungle’s enchantment through sound and cinematography, writer and director duo the Contreras brothers imaginatively use language and metaphor, and eternity over history to weave an unexpected and transcendental love story.
Se murió Juan Gabriel
Screens as part of Shorts: The Future is Queer
On the day famous Mexican singer Juan Gabriel dies, best friends Beto and Daniel will redefine their friendship as Daniel imagines how his day would be if he were a girl.
Three intertwined stories of the gay community in Guatemala: First is about the first crush of two teenage boys during a birthday party in which they do not want to be; True is a romantic comedy where a man seeks to rescue his ex-boyfriend from marrying his unfaithful fiance; Last tells of the tragedy of a couple who have lived in the closet for too long.
Diamante, O Bailarina
Screens as part of Latinxplosive Shorts which plays on March 12 at 9:30 pm and also includes the following films:
Mariposa (Dir: Candy Guinea, 2017, USA, 17 min)
A couple confronts the physical and emotional challenges of trying to get pregnant while being queer.
Undocumented Tales: Simon’s Birthday (Dir: Armando Ibañez, 2017, USA 15 min)
A groundbreaking and thought-provoking comedy about the migrant community in LA.
Familia? (Dir: Kase Pena, 2017, USA, 15 min)
An undocumented Latina Transgender woman’s understanding of family is redefined as she navigates harsh treatment from the people related to her by blood while being appreciated by the community she’s just met, who respect her for being the strong trans woman she is.
Bad Conchas (Dir: Nance Messineo & Cole Santiago, 2017, USA, 15 min)
A queer dyke living in Echo Park hustles to make ends meet while hooking up with as many girls as possible.
By day, Diamante is a gay boxer known for his strong footwork. By night, he performs as a drag queen in a nightclub. In both worlds, Diamante is determined to be the champion.