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Keywords: Dominicans, history, Latina characters, literature, machismo, masculinity, Puerto Ricans, New York City, racial identities.


Chicago Boricua. Dir. Marisol Torres.
Call number: Sonja Haynes Black Cultural Center (personal collection of Dr. Joseph Jordan)
Filming locations: Chicago, IL
Duration: 107 mins.
Summary: Set in a Puerto Rican neighborhood in Chicago’s Humboldt Park, Chicago Boricua interweaves three stories that revolve around Puerto Rican characters.  Lola is a serious student whose intermittent romance with Willy, a neighborhood drug dealer, allows for an exploration of gender roles, masculinity, and violence; Germán is hired at a cut throat corporation that specializes in property acquisitions, and quickly “sells out” his community; Tata aspires to be crowned Miss Puerto Rico at the city’s annual Puerto Rican Day Parade, but must wrestle with notions of identity and authenticity in order to participate in the pageant (Tata’s mother is Anglo American).  While the film at times suffers from pop culture clichés, the film manages to be compelling and impressive as the director’s first film.

Keywords: Latina characters, machismo, masculinity, Puerto Ricans.


Every Child is Born a Poet: The Life and Work of Piri Thomas. Dir. Jonathan Meyer Robinson.
Call number: Sonja Haynes Black Cultural Center (personal collection of Dr. Joseph Jordan)
Filming locations: New York, New York; San Francisco, CA.
Duration: 58 mins.
Summary: Broadcasts on PBS’s P.O.V. series, Every Child is Born a Poet describes the literary and life work of author Piri Thomas.  Interviews with Thomas are interspersed with recitations of his poems, dramatization of scenes from Thomas’s classic Down These Mean Streets (1967), and footage of him working with troubled teenage boys in juvenile detention in San Francisco.  Born in Spanish Harlem to Puerto Rican-Cuban parents, the film tackles head on complex issues of racial identity through Thomas’s identity.

Keywords: literature, machismo, masculinity, New York City, racial identities.


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: history.


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, New York City, masculinity, machismo.


Nelly’s Bodega. Dir. Omonike Akinyemi. Image Quilt Productions, 2000.
Call number: Sonja Haynes Black Cultural Center (personal collection of Dr. Joseph Jordan)
Filming locations: New York, NY
Duration: 58 mins.
Summary: Nelly and her husband, Rafa, own a small grocery store in New York.  While they both harbor aspirations for their business and marriage, Rafa’s physical and emotional abuse of Nelly nixes such plans.  Running parallel to Nelly’s story, Fatima, a young African American girl, seeks advice from Nelly as to how to deal with her first crush.  While Nelly’s store becomes a safe haven for Fatima, it becomes a site of suffering for Nelly as she searches for resolutions to her dilemma including appealing to Oshun, a Cuban santería goddess.

Keywords: Latina characters, machismo, masculinity, New York.


Palante Siempre Palante. Dir. Iris Morales. SubCine, 1996.
Call number: 65-V5984 (Media Resource Center; Library Use Only)
Filming locations: New York, NY; Chicago IL; Philadelphia, PA; San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Duration: 57 mins.
Summary: Inspired by the Black Panthers and galvanized by anti-Vietnam War protests and the feminist movement in the early 1970s, the Young Lords organized within low class urban communities for causes such as access to better health care, living conditions, and education, and eventually independence for Puerto Rico from the U.S.  Palante portrays the emergence and growth of the Young Lords from Puerto Rican barrios, details its impressive victories, often criticizes its machista and militant structure, and shows the organization’s eventual demise.  Interviews with former members, archival footage, music, and photo stills gives a window into the Young Lords and its historical context.

Keywords: Puerto Ricans, New York City, machismo.


Raising Victor Vargas. Dir. Peter Sollet. Samuel Goldwyn, 2002.
Call number: Sonja Haynes Black Cultural Center (personal collection of Dr. Joseph Jordan)
Filming locations: Lower East Side, Manhattan, New York, New York
Duration: 88 mins.
Summary: Victor Vargas is set in a Dominican/Dominican-American community in the Lower East Side of Manhattan, New York.  Victor is a teenager and fashions himself the ultimate ladies man, or a “papi chulo” (Victor’s term).  Victor jeopardizes his image after the neighborhood learns of his rendezvous with Fat Donna, and he seeks to redeem himself by winning over Judy, a young woman who hardly falls for his gambits.  The relationships between Victor, his brother, sister, and grandmother provide another compelling dynamic to this endearing film.

Keywords: Dominicans, machismo, masculinity, New York City.


Sabado Morning. Dir. Ramon Richard. Sabado Films, Inc., 2003
Call number: Sonja Haynes Black Cultural Center (personal collection of Dr. Joseph Jordan)
Filming locations: Brooklyn, New York, New York.
Duration: 6 mins.
Summary:  Inspired by a play by Piri Thomas, Sabado Morning is part short film and part dramatized slam poem.  The film is framed as a recital of a poem on a radio program entitled “Piri’s Poetry Night,” hosted by Piri Thomas.  Images visualize the poem and both text and image work to relate the story of Eddie, a police officer of Puerto Rican descent, who is mistakenly shot by a fellow officer on account of Eddie’s race.  The poem/film is a powerful commentary on consumerism, lure of the streets, and racism.

Keywords: literature, New York City, racial identities.


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: Dominicans, masculinity, racial identities.


Yo Soy Boricua, Pa’que tú lo sepas! (I am Boricua, Just So You Know!). Dir. Rosie Perez. Independent Film Channel, 2006.
Call number: Sonja Haynes Black Cultural Center (personal collection of Dr. Joseph Jordan)
Filming locations: New York, New York; Puerto Rico.
Duration: 86 mins.
Summary: Often anchored by her personal experiences, Rosie Perez directs this documentary that broaches numerous topics related to Puerto Rican/Nuyorican identities.  Yo Soy Boricua explores the fervent passions of Puerto Ricans living in New York City, the various ethnic identities that compose Puerto Rico (indigenous, European, and African), and problematizes a singular notion of identity for those living between cultures.  Perez also uses archival footage of independence movements in Puerto Rico and the Young Lords in the U.S. to give a crucial historical dimension to the film, and foregrounds the often colonial relationship between the U.S. and Puerto Rico.

Keywords: history, New York City, Puerto Ricans, racial identities.




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