Films by Non-Latina/o Directors
FILMS BY NON-LATINA/O DIRECTORS
Afro-Latinos, assimilation, border guards, Chicanas/os, Cuba, Cuban-Americans, domestic workers, Dominicans, drug trafficking, immigration, interracial relationships, labor issues, Latina characters, Latinas/os as gang members, Latina/o stereotypes, Los Angeles, machismo, mainstream cinema, masculinity, maternity, Miami, music, New York City, Puerto Ricans racism, religion, transnationalism, U.S. (California)-Mexican border, U.S.-Mexican border (Ciudad Juárez-El Paso),violence.
Blackboard Jungle. Dir. Richard Brooks. MGM, 1955.
Call number: 65-DVD2416 (Media Resource Center; Library Use Only)
Filming location: El Segundo, CA.
Duration: 101 mins.
Summary: Critics often credit Blackboard Jungle, particularly its soundtrack, with helping to establish rock and roll as a popular music genre. Moreover, the film would establish a common film motif in which a teacher must appeal to jaded youth in order to inspire them to learn. In the case of Blackboard Jungle, Richard Dadier (Glenn Ford) comes to a school set in an urban environment. Dadier must confront a number of unruly male students, some of whom are Latino and belong to gangs. One gang member, Morales, plays a prominent role in the film, especially the ending.
Keywords: Latina/o stereotypes, Latinas/os as gang members, labor issues.
The Border. Dir. Tony Richardson. MCA Videocassette, 1982.
Call number: 65-V288 (Media Resource Center)
Filming locations: Antigua, Guatemala; Guatemala City, Guatemala; El Paso, TX.
Duration: 107 mins.
Summary: Jack Nicholson and Harvey Keitel star as border guards stationed in El Paso, Texas. Keitel’s character, Cat, enters into a corrupt moneymaking scheme illegally transporting Mexicans across the U.S.-Mexican border. Nicholson’s character, Charlie Smith, reluctantly helps Cat, but soon realizes his errors while falling in love with a Mexican woman who he had previously deported. Good border guard is pitted against bad border guard as Charlie confronts Cat about his illicit business dealings.
Keywords: U.S.-Mexican border (Ciudad Juarez-El Paso), border guards.
Bread and Roses. Dir. Ken Loach. Lions Gate Home Entertainment, 2001.
Call number: 65-DVD2408 (Media Resource Center; Library Use Only)
Filming locations: Los Angeles, CA.
Duration: 110 mins.
Summary: Ken Loach trains his social realist and naturalistic filmmaking style to relate how immigrant (primarily Latina/o) and African American custodians organize a union for better working conditions from the private contractor which employs them. Maya (Pilar Padilla) arrives from Mexico with the help of coyotes, from which she must escape after being kidnapped. After doing so, Maya lands a job as a house cleaner through the help of her sister, Rosa. With the help of labor organizers including “Sam” (Adrien Brody), the workers organize for empowerment, but must contend with tensions that their bosses exploit to prevent the union’s establishment.
Keywords: Latina characters, Los Angeles, labor issues, domestic workers.
Camille. Dir. George Cukor. Warner Home Video, 1921.
Call number: 65-DVD2583 (Media Resource Center; Library Use Only)
Filming locations: Culver City, CA.
Summary: This 1921 silent film is an adaptation of Alexandre Dumas’ novel The Lady of Camellias and features Rudolf Valentino as Armand, a dashing suitor who courts Marguerite Gautier only to have his love constantly rejected or thwarted. While the film has little to do with Latinas/os per se, various film scholars of Latina/o film consider Valentino as the predecessor of the Latino lover stereotype that appeared in early Hollywood films and continues to exist. Other films with Rudolf Valentino in the Media Resource Center collection include Four Horseman of the Apocalypse and Cobra. Note: the silent version of Camille is contained as an extra on the DVD of the 1936 talkie remake starring Greta Garbo and Robert Taylor.
Keywords: Latina/o stereotypes, masculinity.
Cruceros y caminos. Dir. Shane Nye. 1996.
Call number: ISA Film Collection (VHS)
Filming location: Clinton, NC.
Duration: 17 mins.
Summary: Cruceros y caminos provides a window into the evolving Latina/o community in Clinton, NC. Through voiceovers and interviews, one learns of the circumstances that draw Latin American immigrants to Clinton and what convinces them to settle there in greater numbers. Local churches serve as important community centers and the film shows various community functions such as a quinceañera, festivals, and religious services.
Keywords: North Carolina, assimilation, religion.
The Double Burden: Three Generations of Working Mothers. Dir. Marlene Booth. New Day Films, 1992.
Call number: 65-V9221 (Media Resources Center; Library Use Only)
Filming locations: Texas and California
Duration: 56 mins.
Summary: Director Marlene Booth uses her own life as a point of departure to explore the tensions between motherhood and work. Booth interviews three generations of mothers in three separate families and, while all the families’ stories are significant and compelling in their own right, the vignette of the Gomez family should be of particular interest to those interested in Latina/o studies. Otile, the eldest woman within the Gomez family, was a migrant farm worker who had to attend to her children while working on the job, as did her daughter, Molly, until she opened a restaurant. Molly’s daughter, Jeanette, obtains a professional career as a draftsperson, but contends with an acute maternal guilt for not attending to her children on a daily basis.
Keywords: labor issues, maternity.
The Double Life of Ernesto Gomez Gomez. Dir. Catherine Ryan and Gary Weimberg. Luna Productions, 1999.
Call number: Sonya Haynes Black Cultural Center (personal collection of Dr. Joseph Jordan)
Filming locations: Oaxaca, Mexico; San Francisco, CA; New York, NY.
Duration: 55 mins.
Summary: In this heartrending documentary, the notion of a double-life functions as both a figurative and literal metaphor for Ernesto Gomez Gomez, a young man in his late teens when the film was released. Ernesto is also Guillermo, the son of Puerto Rican revolutionaries in the U.S. When his mother is arrested and father goes into exile when he is only 13 months old in 1980, Ernesto/Guillermo is sent to Mexico to be raised by a family in Oaxaca. Ernesto/Guillermo eventually learns of his past and at the age of 15 begins to visit a prison near San Francisco to reconnect with his mother. Regardless of changing his name to Guillermo and declaring Ernesto “dead,” Guillermo cannot relinquish his ties to his Mexican family. While the filmmakers foreground a personal story, the colonial and imperialistic relationship between the United States and Puerto Rico serves as a backdrop.
Keywords: assimilation, maternity, Puerto Ricans.
Flying Down to Rio. Dir. Thorton Freeland. RKO Radio Pictures, 1933.
Call number: 65-V663 (Media Resource Center)
Filming locations: Miami, FL; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Duration: 89 mins.
Summary: While it may be a stretch to classify Flying Down to Rio as a Latina/o film, some critics (most notably Charles Ramírez Berg) consider the film’s depiction of its Brazilian protagonist as a predecessor to the oversexualized Latina stereotype. The film begins at a resort hotel in Miami, where U.S. Anglo women resent the presence of Belinha, a rich white Brazilian woman. As men swoon over Belinha, the Anglo women ask, “‘What do these South Americans have below the equator that we don’t?’”
Keywords: Latina/o stereotypes.
Fort Apache. Dir. John Ford. Argosy Pictures, 1948.
Call number: 65-V26
Filming locations: Moab, UT; Mexican Hat, UT; Monument Valley, UT; Kanab, UT; Simi Valley, CA; Culver City, CA.
Duration: 125 mins.
Summary: A 1948 film starring John Wayne, Henry Fonda, and Shirley Temple, Fort Apache was considered one of the first films to sympathetically depict Native Americans, specifically Apaches in this case. Fort Apache, along with several other Westerns by John Ford, are noted for their depictions of Latinas/os, often times negative. In the case of Fort Apache, one sees a Mexican American woman working as a servant. And yet, in probably the most intriguing scene of the film from a point of view of Latina/o studies, Sergeant Beaufort (Pedro Armendariz) accompanies Capt. York to negotiate with the Apaches. Sergeant Beaufort, obviously of Mexican roots in the film, acts a Spanish-English interpreter between John Wayne and the Apaches, who communicate in Spanish with the U.S. Army.
Keywords: Latina/o stereotypes.
Giant. Dir. George Stevens. Giant Productions, 1956.
Call number: 65-V787 (2 cassettes; Media Resource Center)
Filming locations: Marfa, TX; Jeff Davis County, TX; Valentine, TX; Presidio County, TX; San Bernardino National Forest, CA; Los Angeles, CA; Charlottesville, VA.
Duration: 210 mins.
Summary: Praised by critics of Latina/o cinema for its strident and precocious condemnation of racism against Mexican Americans, Giant depicts the trials and travails of the Benedict family. At the start of the film, the Benedicts have made their fortune ranching. The prized son, Bick Benedict (Rock Hudson), marries a more refined and liberal Leslie (Elizabeth Taylor), who grows concerned with the poor living conditions in which the Mexican American workers on the Benedict ranch reside. Bick eventually sells his land to a former farmhand, Jett Rink, who becomes a billionaire through oil. Rink’s discrimination against the Mexican American wife of Bick’s son (a young Dennis Hopper) propels the film to its climax.
Keywords: racism, mainstream cinema.
El Inmigrante. Dir. John Sheedy, David Eckenrode, and John Eckenrode. Indican Pictures, 2005.
Call number: 65-DVD5023 (Media Resource Center)
Filming locations: Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas (Mexico); Sasabe, Mexico; Agua Prieta, Mexico; Altar, Mexico; Bracketville, TX; El Paso, TX;
Duration: 90 mins.
Summary: By focusing on the life and shooting death of Eusebio de Haro in 2001, El Inmigrante personalizes the crisis on the U.S.(Texas)-Mexican border. De Haro journeyed from San Felipe, Mexico to south Texas twice. During his second trip an elderly man in Bracketville, Texas shot and killed De Haro after he and a friend requested water. The filmmakers interview several parties including de Haro’s family, U.S. ranch owners, police and government officials in Bracketville, U.S. border guards, and the Minutemen and thus provide a variety of perspectives. The movie has been screened at various film festivals including the Full Frame Festival in 2006.
Key words: U.S. (California)-Mexican border, violence, immigration, mainstream cinema.
Living in America: One Hundred Years of Ybor City. Dir. Gayla Jamison. Filmmakers Library, 1988.
Call number: 65-V4064 (Media Resources Center; Library Use Only)
Duration: 53 mins.
Filming locations: Ybor City, FL
Summary: Ybor City is a neighborhood in Tampa, Florida, that rose to prominence when cigar factory owners relocated their operations from Key West to Ybor City to avoid labor unrest in the 1880s. Ybor City was the site in which various nationalities converged and created sizable communities of Italian, Spanish, and Cuban, including a prominent Afro-Cuban community. While little remains of the Ybor City’s heyday, Living in America shows residues of the city’s past through architecture, food, and interviews with elderly residents, and the efforts of newcomers to revive that past.
Keywords: Cuba, Cuban-Americans, labor issues.
Lone Star. Dir. John Sayles. Columbia Pictures, 1996.
Call number: 65-DVD1155 (Media Resource Center)
Filming locations: Del Rio, TX; Eagle Pass, TX; Laredo, TX.
Duration: 135 mins.
Summary: John Sayles’s film deftly broaches the subtleties of interlocking histories and memory between Anglo, Latina/o, and African American residents of a small town in Texas called Frontera. Sam Deeds (Chris Cooper) investigates the murder of former sheriff Charley Wade (Kris Kristofferson) who embodies racism. In his investigations, Sam uncovers unforeseen truths that link the town residents and, in the film’s own detective work, we learn of the hidden connections between characters despite racial barriers of the past and present.
Keywords: history, U.S. (Texas)-Mexico border.
Mi Vida Loca (My Crazy Life). Dir. Allison Anders. HBO Home Video, 1994.
Call number: 65-DVD3354 (Media Resource Center; Library Use Only)
Filming locations: Echo Park, Los Angeles, CA.
Duration: 96 mins.
Summary: Praised for its willingness to focus on Chicana gang members and harshly criticized for its indulgence in stereotypes (see Rosa Linda Fregoso’s “Hanging Out With the Homegirls? Allison Anders’s ‘Mi Vida Loca’”: http://lib.berkeley.edu/MRC/MiVidaLoca.html), Mi Vida Loca depicts Chicana/o gangs during the late 1980s in Echo Park, CA. The narrative is divided into three interlocking stories about individuals within the same gang. Mousie and Sad Girl, two Chicana gang members, are impregnated by the same boy, Ernesto, thus straining their friendship. After Ernesto’s death, Mousie and Sad Girl must navigate the tensions of their friendship. Whisper ascends to the rank of a big time drug dealer when she fills the vacuum left by the death of a male dealer.
Keywords: Latina characters, Latina/o stereotypes, Chicanas/os, violence.
Manito. Dir. Eric Eason. K & L Productions, 2003.
Call number: 65-DVD1605 (Media Resource Center)
Filming Location: New York, New York.
Duration: 70 mins.
Summary: Winner of a Special Jury Grand Prize at the Sundance Film Festival in 2002, Manito opens a 48-hour window into the lives of a Dominican family in Washington Heights. Manny (“Manito”), the title character will graduate and is to become the first member of his family to attend college. Manny is supported by a range of family members including his brother, Junior, his grandfather, and a host of friends (Manny’s father figures into the picture, but remains a scourge to the family, while his mother died when he was younger). Manny and his family’s aspirations for him are derailed following a graduation party, one event that seems incredulously accompanied by numerous tragedies. The director, Eric Eason, uses mainly non-trained actors in this hyper-masculine and at times frustrating film.
Keywords: Dominicans, Afro-Latinos, New York, masculinity, machismo.
My Darling Clementine. Dir. John Ford. Twentieth Century-Fox Films, 1946.
Call number: 65-DVD5419 (Media Resource Center) or 65-V1592 (Media Resource Center)
Filming locations: Monument Valley, AZ; Monument Valley, UT; Moab, UT; Kayenta, AZ; Devil’s Tower, WY.
Duration: 96 mins.
Summary: Based upon the story of the Gunfight at the OK Corral, My Darling Clementine is a typically brilliant Western by John Ford. Its significance to Latina/o studies rests on the stereotype of Latinas as harlots. Chihuahua (Linda Darnell) is Doc Holliday’s love interest and appears less than faithful to him at times.
Keywords: Latina/o stereotypes, mainstream cinema.
Milagro Beanfield War. Dir. Robert Redford. MCA Home Video, 1988.
Call number: 65-V1956 (Media Resource Center)
Filming locations: Espanola, NM; Santa Fe, NM; Truchas, NM; Truchas, NM.
Duration: 118 mins.
Summary: An adaptation of the novel, Milagro Beanfield War relates the conflict that emerges in a rural community in New Mexico (“Milagro Valley”) between a powerful real estate tycoon and a town resident, José, who diverts a water source in order to plant and cultivate beans. Despite some reluctance by the community members of Milagro Valley to support José’s efforts, the character’s beanfield galvanizes the community to take a stand against the development of a resort that threatens their livelihood.
Keywords: Latina/o stereotypes, mainstream cinema.
Romántico. Dir. Mark Becker. Kino, 2007.
Call number: 65-DVD5261 (Media Resource Center; Library Use Only)
Filming locations: Salvatierra, Guanajuato, Mexico; San Francisco, CA.
Duration: 80 mins.
Summary: By day, Carlos Muñiz washes cars and, at night, he morphs into a mariachi musician playing ranchero and norteño tunes for tips in the restaurants and bars of San Francisco. Carlos supports his wife, two daughters, and mother in Salvatierra, Guanajuato (Mexico) by sending portions of his wages. Despite often talking by phone, Carlos has not seen his family in years and, upon his return to Salvatierra, he must contend with the financial strains he sought to escape when he left for the United States.
Keywords: U.S.-Mexico border (California), transnationalism, music.
Roots of Migration. Dir. Mikel Barton. Witness for Peace, 2009.
Call number: ISA Film Library (DVD)
Duration: 20 mins.
Filming locations: Oaxaca, Mexico
Summary: Witness for Peace is a U.S.-based activist organization that grew out of opposition to the Reagan Administration’s policies in Nicaragua during the 1980s. In 2009, a group of 20 Witness for Peace members traveled to Oaxaca, Mexico to gain a better understanding for the reasons for migration to the United States, and Roots of Migration documents that trip. Through interviews with residents, the film provides personalized insights into economic forces and arrangements, including NAFTA, that have caused many Mexicans, among others, to reluctantly leave their countries to seek employment in the U.S.
Salt of the Earth. Dir. Herbert Biberman. Voyager Press, 1954.
Call number: 65-V1086 (Media Resource Center)
Filming locations: Bayard, NM; Grant County, NM; Silver City, NM; Los Angeles, CA.
Duration: 94 mins.
Summary: Lauded for its portrayal of strong Latina characters, Salt of the Earth relates the story of how Mexican American miners and their wives join struggle to form a labor union against the pressures of the Empire Zinc Company. After the male miners are arrested and attacked, their wives form a picket line and contend with the intimidation from the police and the outrage from their husbands. The film was inspired by actual events, blacklisted, and was done in a neorealist style using a number of untrained actors and actresses.
Keywords: Latina characters, labor issues.
Scarface. Dir. Brian De Palma. Universal Pictures, 1983.
Call number: 65-DVD474 (Media Resource Center)
Filming locations: Miami, FL; Los Angeles, CA; Montecito, CA; New York, NY.
Duration: 170 mins.
Summary: A remake of the 1932 classic, Al Pacino stars as Tony Montana, a Cuban refugee arriving to Miami with the Mariel Boatlift in 1980. The film shows the ascent of Montana from refugee and low-wage worker to Miami’s top drug kingpin and his subsequent fall. Montana navigates the drug trafficking underworld in both the Americas with extreme ruthlessness and violence, while trying to maintain a marriage with Michelle Pfeiffer’s character, Elvira Hancock. Among other themes, the film allows for a discussion of representations of Cuban and Cuban-Americans, Miami, drug trafficking, and cinematic violence.
Keywords: Cuba, Cuban-Americans, Miami, drug trafficking.
Spanglish. Dir. James L. Brooks. Columbia Pictures, 2004.
Call number: 65-DVD2215 (Media Resource Center)
Filming locations: Los Angeles, CA; Santa Monica, CA; Culver City, CA.
Duration: 131 mins.
Summary: Starting out as an admissions essay to Princeton University, Shelbie Bruce’s character, Cristina Moreno, relates how her mother was the most influential figure in her life. Cristina’s mother, Flor (played by Paz Vega), immigrates with her daughter from Los Angeles to Mexico. Cristina attends school, while her mother works two jobs. Flor eventually seeks more lucrative employment in an upper-class home and begins working for the Claskys. Flor’s character is a near foil for Deborah, the wife/mother figure of the Claskys, and Flor seemingly fills a maternal, and eventually romantic, void in the Claskys. Deborah and Flor soon clash, and conflict unfolds.
Keywords: Latina characters, Los Angeles, domestic workers, maternity.
Sugar. Dir. Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck. Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, 2009.
Call number: 65-DVD9757 (Media Resource Center; additional copy for Library Use Only)
Duration: 114 mins.
Filming locations: Dominican Republic; Iowa; Arizona.
Summary: Miguel “Sugar” Santos is a professional prospect from the Dominican Republic who trains in a club/assembly line run by one of Major League Baseball’s teams. Santos obtains a chance to play in the minor leagues in the United States and encounters numerous cultural differences that go beyond a language barrier, to explore issues of race, alienation, masculinity, religion, gender, and food. Sugar has been nominated for numerous film festival awards and deservedly received critical praise upon its theatrical release in 2009.
Keywords: Afro-Latinos, Dominicans, interracial relationships, masculinity.
The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada. Dir. Tommy Lee Jones. Europa Corp., 2005.
Call number: 65-DVD3073 (Media Resource Center)
Filming locations: Big Bend National Park, TX; Lajitas, TX; Monahans, TX; Odessa, TX; Van Horn, TX.
Duration: 121 mins.
Summary: Set on the Texas-Mexico border, Melquiades Estrada (Julio Cedillo) is a farmhand and close friend of Pete Perkins (Tommy Lee Jones). When Estrada is shot and killed by Belmont, a border guard (Dwight Yoakham), the local police do nothing reasoning Estrada was “only a wetback.” Perkins enacts his own justice and kidnaps Belmont forcing him to walk days across northern Mexico in order to locate Estrada’s wife and give Estrada a proper burial.
Keywords: U.S.(Texas)-Mexico border, border guards.
Touch of Evil. Dir. Orson Welles. Universal International Pictures, 1958.
Call number: 65-DVD440 (Media Resource Center) or 65-V1345 (Media Resource Center; Library Use Only) or 65-LD128 (Media Resource Center; Library Use Only)
Filming locations: Los Angeles, CA.
Duration: 111 mins.
Summary: Orson Welles directs and acts in this incredible and problematic film that takes place in a town that straddles the U.S.-Mexican border. Appearing in brown face make-up, Charlton Heston plays Ramón Miguel Vargas, a police official with the Mexican government. Vargas and his wife, Susie, are on their honeymoon when a bomb explodes on the U.S. side of the border. Vargas’s investigations uncover corrupt police work and stoke tensions between Vargas and Welles’s character Captain Hank Quinlan, a police officer from the U.S. side. Quinlan frames Vargas’s wife for murder, setting the stage for the film’s climax. A useful critical essay on Touch of Evil, “Hallucinations of Miscegenation and Murder: Dancing along the Mestiza/o Borders of Proto-Chicana/o Cinema with Orson Welles’s Touch of Evil”, appears in William Anthony Nericcio’s Tex[t]-Mex: Seductive Hallucinations of the “Mexican” in America (University of Texas Press, 2007).
Keywords: U.S.-Mexico border, interracial relationships, Latina/o stereotypes.
Traffic. Dir. Steven Soderbergh. USA Home Entertainment, 2001.
Call number: 65-DVD693 (Media Resource Center)
Filming location: San Diego, CA; El Paso, TX; Cincinnati, OH; Tucson, AZ; Sonora, Mexico.
Duration: 147 mins.
Summary: While Traffic does include a few Latina/o characters, its value to Latina/o studies stems in part from its depiction of the militarized U.S.-Mexico border and the flow of illegal narcotics across borders. The film also broaches questions about NAFTA and how it will affect the circulation of drugs across borders.
Keywords: U.S.-Mexico border, drug trafficking.
West Side Story. Dir. Jerome Robbins and Robert Wise. The Mirisch Corporation, 1961.
Call number: DVD 205 (Music Library) or 65-DVD2942 (Media Resource Center; Library Use Only) or 65-LD89 (Media Resource Center; Library Use Only) or 65-V160 (Media Resource Center)
Filming locations: New York, NY; Los Angeles, CA.
Duration: 152 mins.
Summary: An adaptation of the Broadway musical of the same name and loosely based on Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, West Side Story traffics in the common stereotype of Latinas/os, here specifically Puerto Ricans, as gang members. Set in New York City, a fierce rivalry quickly develops between the Sharks, a white Anglo-American gang, and the Jets, a Puerto Rican gang. One of Jets founders, Tony, has grown apart from the gang and half-heartedly participates in the confrontation with the Jets. The plot thickens, however, when Tony falls in love with Maria, the sister of the Sharks members. The film’s songs such as “America” also contribute to the characterization of Puerto Ricans.
Keywords: Puerto Ricans, Latinas/os gang members, New York City.