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Cuban, Cuban-American, exile, experimental film, identity, Latina/o literature, masculinity, Nuyorican identity, parody, queer Latina/o identities, transnationalism.


The Devil Never Sleeps. Dir. Lourdes Portillo. Latin American Video Archive, 1994.
Call number: 65-V8036 (Media Resource Center; Library Use Only)
Filming locations: Chihuahua, Mexico.
Duration: 87 mins.
Summary: Lourdes Portillo returns to her birthplace, Chihuahua, Mexico, to investigate the rumors surrounding her Uncle Oscar’s death and, in doing so, to mediate on the nature of memory and family dynamics.  Documentary interviews, autobiographical testimonies, police reports, newspaper clippings, stylized film shots, photographs, television footage, and home movies allow for an examination of different media as reliable “evidence” in Portillo’s personal search for answers.  Tapping into film noir (specifically Welles’ Touch of Evil) and telenovela tropes, Portillo’s sleuthing broaches more questions beckoning the viewers to participate in the sinuous narrative.

Keywords: transnationalism, parody, identity, experimental film.


Improper Conduct (Mauvaise conduite). Dir. Nestor Almendros, Orlando Jimenez Leal, 1984.
Call number: 65-V1140 (Media Resource Center; Library Use Only)
Filming locations: Miami, FL; New York, NY; London, England; Paris, France.
Considered a work of the first generation of Cuban American filmmaking, Improper Conduct operates ostensibly as an anti-Castro documentary to appeal to liberal viewers.  The film shows portrays the Cuban community in Miami, and denounces the oppression of artists and homosexuals in Cuba through interviews with figures such as Reinaldo Arenas, Guillermo Cabrera Infante, and Susan Sontag.  Despite its overt agenda, critics point to the film’s depiction of a destabilized Cuban identity and the emergence of a distinctly Cuban-American one, particularly through the interviews with queer Cuban refugees living in New York.
Duration: 112 mins.

Key words: Cuban, Cuban-American, exile, queer Latina/o identities.


Merida proscrita. Enrique Novelo Cascante and Raul Ferrera-Balanquet, 1990.
Call number: ISA Film Collection (DVD)
Filming location: Merida, Yucatan, Mexico.
Duration: 7 mins.
Summary:  Merida proscrita tells of a strained relationship between two men in Merida, Mexico.  Images of the city are interspersed with images of the two lovers together, while machismo and confessions of poverty complicates the relationship.  The sepia tone of the images denotes sadness, while melodramatic elements make this film an engaging short.

Keywords: masculinity, machismo.


Piñero. Dir. Leon Ichaso. Miramax Home Entertainment, 2001.
Call number: 65-V8421 (Media Resource Center; Library Use Only)
Filming locations: New York, NY; Puerto Rico.
Duration: 103 mins.
Summary:  Benjamin Bratt stars in this biopic about Nuyorican poet and playwright Miguel Piñero.  The film attempts to capture numerous facets of Piñero’s life: his strained relationship with his father, prostitution as a teenager, a celebrity status following the release of his play Short Eyes, prison terms, the founding of the Nuyorican Poets Café, his bisexuality, reckless drug use, and frigid reception by Puerto Rican intellectuals when he returns to the island.  Critics understandably praised Bratt’s performance and the actor performs several of Piñero’s poems.

Keywords: Nuyorican identity, masculinity, Latina/o literature.


Star Maps. Dir. Miguel Arteta. Twentieth Century Fox, 1997.
Call number: 65-V6687 (Media Resource Center)
Filming locations: Los Angeles, CA.
Duration: 90 mins.
Summary: Recently arrived to Beverley Hills from Mexico, Carlos is a young man who aspires to be a movie or television star.  Carlos moves in with his sister, mother, and brother in a household that appears to have little stability, with the exception of his sister Mari.  Carlos’s estranged father offers Carlos a job handing out maps showing the residences of Hollywood’s stars.  Yet, the business is merely a cover for a prostitution ring that leads Carlos to a dream acting opportunity.

Keywords: queer Latina/o cinema, masculinity.



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