There are not nearly enough lesbian features breaking into our lives these days in general. And an even smaller demographic of those films are ones about Latin Americans. However, the ones I’ve seen are absolutely beautiful and if you haven’t seen them be sure to purchase or watch on your streaming platform.
1-The Fish Child (2009, Argentina) dir. Lucia Puenzo starring Ines Efron, Mariela Vitale
This film is kind of a mind scrambler. It is the story of a housekeeper who had started working for a family as a teenager. Her and the daughter of the house begin having a relationship. The daughter is a bit eccentric and the nanny is incredibly extroverted. You go on this journey where you think you know the truth then quickly become incredibly uncomfortable with the reality.
Ailin has secrets from her past. She ran from her home and ended up working for a wealthy family. She falls for Lala, the daughter, but also loves others. Her and Lala always speak of going back to Ailin’s town to a lake and when Lala realizes Ailin is also having an affair with her father she goes crazy and does something which changes the direction of both their lives. Lala gets out of town and when she comes back for Ailin she realizes Ailin has made the ultimate sacrifice to keep her safe.
This story is really rough, dark, with blasts of light and color, but hard to watch, difficult to process, and a journey which can’t and hasn’t been duplicated. It’s a journey I can’t take often but also a story I was interested in from start to finish.
The Fish Child can also be seen on Netflix
2-The Last Summer of La Boyita (2009, Argentina) dir. Julia Solomonoff starring Guadalupe Alonso, Nicolas Treise
It was difficult to tell where this one would go. A young girl who desperately wants to be liked and respected by her older sister tries to find her identity during the summer. She begins to spend time with a little boy in her town and their friendship grows into as much romance as you can have when you are that young.
As we go on the journey with these two characters we start to realize that the little boy has a secret that even he doesn’t understand. His parents have convinced him he is a boy when in fact he is a girl.
This film is such a small picture journey on the plight of a young boy who isn’t allowed to understand his truth but still has to maneuver his way through a world which his parents have created. Now he’s getting older and it is becoming more complicated for everyone.
The cinematography is beautiful with wide expansive shots of Argentina. The innocence of the two young actors brought into this hugely complicated world allows you to sit back and experience the story rather than over intellectualizing it. They just want to be kids. He just wants to ride horses. It’s everyone else in the town who is complicating their summer.
Just an overall powerful experience.
3-Young & Wild (2012, Argentina) dir. Marialy Rivas starring Alicia Rodriguez, Alina Kuppenheim
This title I ignored for a long time. I will scan all the streaming sites for new lesbian content and some of it ends up being soft core porn, which I find to be a big snooze. Maybe it’s just me but sex without story does not interest me at all. But fortunately for me I was reading an article compiled from my favorite magazine app Zite about the Latin American lesbian films which are a must watch and this one was on there.
If you don’t have Zite you should definitely get it. You create your interests, kind of like signing up for Pinterest, but the end result is they compile all the articles from a ton of publications which they think you might want to read. The more you read the better the suggestions.
Anyway, Young & Wild is about a 17 year old girl from an incredibly religious family who loves sex. She has a lot of sex. She blogs about sex. She gets kicked out of school for having sex. She is then sent to work at a religious television station where she starts dating a guy who works there but also falls for a woman who also works there. The guy is incredibly religious so she mostly has sex with the woman.
It sounds like a shallow storyline and I haven’t made it sound any better than the synopsis which made me not watch this film for months but I really did love this film. A girl becoming an adult who knows what she wants and knows the power she has, falling in love with people despite what garbage she is being told is right and wrong. She ultimately gets found out by everyone. She was really only hiding the fact that she was sleeping with multiple people from her boyfriend who makes her choose him or her girlfriend in the end.
You’ll have to watch it to find out where it goes.
4-Mosquita Y Mari (2012) dir. Aurora Guerro starring Venecia Troncoso, Fenessa Pineda
So this film was shot in and set in L.A. about Chicano teenagers.
The films coming out now are mostly about people who are lesbians having very small picture personal problems. In the past years it has been all about battling societal norms and we have taken into our hands to break that trend. However, I personally love films about battling societal norms and I hope we don’t get too far away from that storyline because it is something we still fight to this day.
AND, and let me see if I can find my point in here somewhere…oh this reminds me of a joke from Ellen Degeneres…I think it was on her Here and Now stand up show, which can be seen on Amazon Prime and should be watched immediately if you haven’t seen it, about having a great point to make. You start talking and you really feel like you are getting somewhere but somehow in the middle you forget your point so you just keep talking thinking you’ll figure out why you started talking to begin with….but then you don’t.
Anyway, I think my point is, there are still cultures which are battling these societal norms and the Latin American culture is one of them. Which leads to incredibly powerful stories like this one about two teenagers in Southeast L.A. who fall in love.
They love one another but they are confused by those feelings. It plays out in an incredibly interesting way. Mari’s home life is difficult and Yolanda tries to assuage that and help her get through school so she can have a better future. Mari acts like a normal teenager, dating boys, but there is a bond between the two girls which can’t be denied. You can feel their confusion, their angst.
This film is really incredible. Aurora really did an amazing job bringing us back to high school and creating a world where you feel the high school angst but it doesn’t over power. I often don’t enjoy high school lesbian angst stories because I lived it, it was uncomfortable, and watching those films can bring it back up in an unpleasant way. She made this film with such heart and grace.
I have one more film in this category but I want it to have its own post. I saw it either last year or the year before, I’m waiting breathlessly for it to be released SOMEWHERE so I can see it again. It’s one of those films which I saw and think about almost daily.
But you’ll have to wait!
I want to end this post with a thought for you. Mosquita Y Mari was partially made possible through a Kickstarter Crowdfunding campaign. It went on to win awards at Sundance.
There are so many lesbian filmmakers trying to make their next film and you can help. I’ve created a list of crowdfunding links where you can see who needs help and who knows, maybe you’ll be a part of the team who makes the next Sundance winner.