Sundance Pick: Mosquita y Mari

“Though we tremble before uncertain futures/ may we meet illness, death and adversity with strength/ may we dance in the face of our fears.”
― Gloria E. Anzaldúa

Mosquita y Mari is a slow paced exploration of being a teenager peering over the brink of adulthood. Set in a Mexican-American neighborhood in Los Angeles, Mosquita y Mari follows the lives of two very different Chicana teenagers. Yolanda (Fenessa Pineda) is a studious high-achiever, a dutiful daughter from a loving home. Mari (Venecia Troncoso) is rebellious and volatile, with a chip on her shoulder that crowds out most of the world. Circumstances toss them together again and again, and they embark on a deep and intense friendship.

In her press kit, writer/director Aurora Guerrero writes:

The inspiration behind my debut feature-film, Mosquita y Mari, was my own adolescence. Initially, when I decided I wanted to write a feature-length script I kept coming back to a series of complex, same-sex friendships I had while growing up. When looking back, long before I identified as queer, I realized my first love was one of my best friends. It was the type of friendship that was really tender and sweet but also sexually charged. Despite the fact that we had the makings of a beautiful teen romance we never crossed that line. The beginnings of Mosquita y Mari was reflecting back on that time and asking myself the questions, why didn’t we cross that line and what kept us in “our place”? I didn’t grow up in a household where my parents forewarned me that if I turned out to be gay they would disown me. They didn’t wave the Bible in my face saying it was wrong. Instead the message was subtle. It was hidden in the silences around sex and desire; it was implied in society’s expectations, you know, like you only experience those feelings of love and desire with the opposite sex. I think all of us are subject to society’s rules so I think many people can relate to this story of censored friendship. That was the initial inspiration. [...] Continue reading

Some Notes On Rape Culture

I happened to catch a tweet from Karnythia yesterday that turned my blood cold.

#rapeculture hurts everyone. The same rhetoric VSB spouted is used in court to make sure less than 20% of all rapists do time.

Say what?

Turns out, Damon (a.k.a. The Champ) decided to create a really flip response to Zerlina Maxwell’s Ebony.com piece “Stop Telling Women How to Not Get Raped.” Despite Maxwell writing lines like these:

Our community, much like society-at-large, needs a paradigm shift as it relates to our sexual assault prevention efforts. For so long all of our energy has been directed at women, teaching them to be more “ladylike” and to not be “promiscuous” to not drink too much or to not wear a skirt. Newsflash: men don’t decide to become rapists because they spot a woman dressed like a video vixen or because a girl has been sexually assertive.

How about we teach young men when a woman says stop, they stop? How about we teach young men that when a woman has too much to drink that they should not have sex with her, if for no other reason but to protect themselves from being accused of a crime? How about we teach young men that when they see their friends doing something inappropriate to intervene or to stop being friends? The culture that allows men to violate women will continue to flourish so long as there is no great social consequence for men who do so.

Damon still decided to write his piece, essentially asking this question:

But, why can’t both genders be educated on how to act responsibility around each other? What’s stopping us from steadfastly instilling “No always means no!” in the minds of all men and boys and educating women how not to put themselves in certain situations? Of course men shouldn’t attempt to have sex with a woman who’s too drunk to say no, but what’s wrong with reminding women that if you’re 5’1 and 110 pounds, it’s probably not the best idea to take eight shots of Patron while on the first, second, or thirteenth date? Yes, sober women definitely get raped too, but being sober and aware does decrease the likelihood that harm may come your way, and that’s true for each gender.

It seems as if the considerable push back again victim-blaming has pushed all the way past prudence and levelheadedness, making anyone who suggests that “women can actually be taught how to behave too” insensitive or a “rape enabler.” And, while the sentiment in Maxwell’s article suggests that victim-blaming is dangerous, I think it’s even more dangerous to neglect to remind young women that, while it’s never their fault if they happen to get sexually assaulted, they shouldn’t thumb their noses to common sense either.

Damon’s already (somewhat) apologized and been raked over the coals by folks on his site, Twitter, and Tumblr.

So my goal in writing this piece isn’t to hold him accountable–that’s already gone on. My goal in writing this is to answer his question. And since I recently gave a talk at Swarthmore on rape culture, I just so happen to have a bunch of examples and facts right at my fingertips.

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By The Numbers: On Demián Bichir’s Oscar Nomination For A Better Life

By Arturo R. García

With apologies to fans of Michael Fassbender, Ryan Gosling, et al., by far the most pleasant surprise of this week’s Academy Awards nominee announcements was seeing Demián Bichir get nominated for Best Actor–alongside “conventional” choices like George Clooney and Brad Pitt–for his role as an undocumented single father in A Better Life. 

As Colorlines noted, Bichir’s nomination was one of several nods for Latinos in this year’s Oscar race: cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki, also from Mexico, was nominated for Best Cinematography for Terence Malick’s The Tree of Life; Bérénice Bejo, a native of Argentina, earned a Best Supporting Actress nomination for her turn in the The Artist; Brazilian Sérgio Mendes was nominated for Best Song for “Real in Rio,” his collaboration with Siedah Garrett, of “Man In The Mirror” fame, from the animated film Rio.

But a look at some relevant figures further illustrates how painfully rare Bichir’s accomplishment is.

2: The number of Mexican-born nominees for Best Actor, with Bichir joining Anthony Quinn, who was nominated on two separate occasions, for Wild Is The Wind (1957) and Zorba The Greek (1964).

2: The number of white actors nominated for this category for playing Latino characters (Marlon Brando, 1952, Viva Zapata! and Spencer Tracy, 1958, The Old Man and the Sea).

47: The number of years between Quinn’s nomination for Zorba and Bichir’s nomination.

61: The number of years since a Latino actor born outside of Mexico and the United States was nominated for Best Actor; José Ferrer (born in Puerto Rico in 1912, before it became a U.S. territory) earned the honor in 1950 for Cyrano De Bergerac.

1: The number of:

  • Latino actors (going into this year’s ceremony) to win Best Actor, with Ferrer taking the Oscar home.
  • Latino actors born in the U.S. to be nominated for the category (Edward James Olmos, 1988, Stand and Deliver.)
  • Latinas in Oscars history to win the Best Actress award (Rita Moreno, 1961, West Side Story.)
  • Mexican-born actresses ever nominated in that category (Salma Hayek, 2002, Frida.)

0: The number of Latina actresses born in the U.S. to be nominated for Best Actress.

$1,759,252: Total domestic gross for A Better Life, per Box Office Mojo.

$75,524,658: Total domestic gross (as of Jan. 24) for Moneyball, starring Bichir’s fellow nominee Brad Pitt.

11,000,000: The total number of undocumented workers in the United States, as quoted by Bichir in a statement to US Weekly, as he dedicated his nomination to them.

6,650,000: Estimated number of undocumented Mexican immigrants in the U.S. as of 2009, according to the Department of Homeland Security (PDF).

25-to-1:  Current odds of Bechir winning the Oscar, according to Vegas Insider.

Racialicious at Sundance

Beasts of the Southern Wild

So, thanks to a fast talking friend, I ended up in Park City, Utah for the Sundance Film Festival.

I’m warning you now – for actual film coverage and movie reviews, go straight to the pros. Tambay, as always, is holding it down for Shadow and Act, and she’s already got a review up of “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” which is the photo illustrating this post.

I’m trying to fit at least 6 movies into the my time here (along with some interviews and some gate crashing), so here’s what I’m eyeing:

Beasts of the Southern Wild

Hushpuppy, an intrepid six-year-old girl, lives with her father, Wink, in “the Bathtub,” a southern Delta community at the edge of the world. Wink’s tough love prepares her for the unraveling of the universe; for a time when he’s no longer there to protect her. When Wink contracts a mysterious illness, nature flies out of whack—temperatures rise, and the ice caps melt, unleashing an army of prehistoric creatures called aurochs. With the waters rising, the aurochs coming, and Wink’s health fading, Hushpuppy goes in search of her lost mother.

The Words

The Words
Starring: Zoe Saldana, Bradley Cooper

Rory Jansen, a struggling writer, aspires to be the next great literary voice. When he discovers a lost manuscript in a weathered attaché case, he realizes he possesses something extraordinary that he desperately wishes he had created. Rory decides to pass the work off as his own and finally receives the recognition he desperately craves. However, he soon learns that living with his choice will not be as easy as he thought as he faces a moral dilemma that will make him take a hard look at the man he has become.

Filly Brown

Filly Brown
Starring:Gina Rodriguez, Jenni Rivera

Majo” Tonorio, a.k.a. Filly Brown, is a raw, young Los Angeles hip-hop artist who spits from the heart. When a sleazy record producer offers her a crack at rap stardom, Majo faces some daunting choices. With an incarcerated mother, a record contract could be the ticket out for her struggling family. But taking the deal means selling out her talent and the true friends who helped her to the cusp of success.

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Open Thread: Jan. 24 State Of The Union Address

By Arturo R. García

From telling Congress, “I intend to fight obstruction with action” to calling for a more “common sense” approach to handling the country’s growing income gap, last night’s State of the Union address seemed to boil down to President Barack Obama telling his would-be opponents this election year, Come at the King, you best not miss.

But rather than quote more pundits, Racializens, we’d like your take on the speech: was it fair of him to call on Congress to deliver “comprehensive immigration reform right now,” while not mentioning the DREAM Act by name? Can Obama’s announcement of a task force to investigate what he called “the abusive lending and packaging of risky mortgages that led to the housing crisis” and his “common sense” line be called, as The Guardian’s Gary Younge suggests, a response to the Occupy Wall Street movement? Was his take on what he described as partisan obstruction, as Indiana governor Mitch Daniels said in the Republican response, needlessly decisive?

If you missed the speech, the New York Times has a full transcript here. Otherwise, the floor is yours.

 

Why I’m Team Kalinda: A New Face For Desi Women On TV

By Guest Contributor Anurag Lahiri

During my four months of funemployment after grad school I became hooked on a list of TV shows. A couple of my queer desi friends had been raving about The Chicago Code a while back and when I finally watched it I enjoyed it. So of course when the same friends started tweeting about The Good Wife, and specifically about one character, Kalinda Sharma, I decided to take the hint and marathon it.

The same things drew me to both shows: aside from the suspense and drama, they’re both set in Chicago. As a girl from the Midwest, I enjoy watching a show whose city politics I can relate to.

There is a difference between the two shows though: Chicago Code was mostly special for me because Jennifer Beals was in it and, for an L Word fan, she will always be Bette Porter. Yes, even if she is playing a superintendent of a police department. On the other hand, I will gladly embrace Archie Panjabi as Sharma, a queer, desi, private investigator on The Good Wife.

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Not My Arab Spring

Courtesy of Illume Magazine

By Guest Contributor Sara Yasin

The Arab Spring shattered everything that I thought I knew about the Arab world. As unrest broke out in the region, and regimes fell, I realised how little I knew. As a Palestinian-American, it has been routine to reference my heritage, from explaining why I do not look like Princess Jasmine, or distancing myself from suicide bombers. The politics of the land of my parents always frustrated me, and I suppose what I understood was mostly gleaned from exhausted conversations overheard in our home or headlines.

To my shock, even though I proved to know very little about what caused the Arab Spring, many seemed to automatically think that the first half of my hyphenated identity automatically made me an authority on the region. While I feel tied to and interested in the struggle for change across the Middle East and North Africa, this is not my Arab Spring.

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Announcement: 2012 Mixed Roots Film & Literary Festival Now Accepting Submissions

By Arturo R. García

The Mixed Roots Film & Literary Festival contacted us with the heads-up: the submission period has opened for this year’s event, scheduled to run June 16-17 at the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles.

There is no submission fee for entries sent before Feb. 15, but entries submitted between Feb. 16 and March 15 must be accompanied by a $50 fee. We’ve got information on each category, and links to the required submissions forms, under the cut.
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