Cine+Mas, the presenting organization of the San Francisco Latino Film Festival, kicked off another year of features, documentaries and shorts by Latino filmmakers from all over the world last week.
The festival's organizers have never shied away from screening films with accurate and riveting portrayals of LGBT lives.
In 2010, they had a special presentation of "Undertow," the Peruvian drama that garnered the GLAAD Media Award for outstanding film. Last year, Cine+Mas grouped together a collection of short films: one about gay lovers in the army, another about Mexican transgender women who migrate to San Francisco and a third about lesbian foodies.
This year, even though there isn't a specific LGBT-themed screening, the festival has several presentations that shed light on the Latino queer experience both here in The City and abroad. I talked to Cine+Mas founding organizer Lucho Ramirez and got a sneak peek at some of those films.
The colorful comedy "Delusions of Grandeur" made its San Francisco premiere Saturday as part of the festival. The film, directed by Iris Almaraz and Gustavo Ramos, follows a young woman as she searches for her mother and finds instead a "transgender fairy godmother." Set in 1990s San Francisco, "Delusions" was shot here and features well-known local establishments such the Roxie Theater, Esta Noche and The Stud — not to mention a cameo by the inescapable Juanita More.
With its maternal fixation, pop culture references and quirky transgender characters, the movie can best be summed up as Almodóvar meets "Valencia."
From El Salvador comes "El Cadaver Exquisito (The Exquisite Corpse)," written and directed by Victor Ruano, an Emmy-winning graphic designer. Ruano edited 400 hours of footage into 90 minutes to create this experimental film, a raw documentary influenced by distinctive Latin American surrealism. In a series of seemingly disjointed vignettes, including an extensive look into the lives of local transgender sex workers, "El Cadaver Exquisito" juxtaposes unscripted everyday rituals with staged dream sequences to provide social commentary on violence in El Salvador, especially against women.
The original Spanish title for "Porcelain Horse," an Ecuadorian feature film written and directed by Javier Andrade, translates to "Better Not Talk of Certain Things." It's a story of family, loyalty and remorse disguised as sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll. Two ungrateful brothers turn their backs on their wealthy upbringing to purse a crippling heroin addiction and unexpected love affairs with a married woman and a bisexual record producer.
"Porcelain Horse" captures a post-punk sensibility that reminded me of one of my favorite Latin American writers, Caio Fernando Abreu. To boost its indie music cred, the film soundtrack features cool tracks by Ecuadorian rock group El Retorno de Exxon Valdez, Italian pop duo Al Bano y Romina Power and quintessential '90s band Pavement.
The San Francisco Latino Film Festival runs until Sept. 27. More information can be found at sflatinofilmfestival.com.
Oscar Raymundo is the head of marketing at a leading LGBT media company. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.