5 Must-Watch Queer, Latine-Directed Films

protagonists from the films Mosquita y Mari, Vida, A Fantastic Woman, The Garden Left Behind and Sand Dollars

Cinema powerfully reflects and shapes society, with queer cinema pushing boundaries and advocating for diversity. When blended with the rich diversity of Latine culture, it births an enlightening and varied cinematic journey.

At Luz, we champion these less-explored narratives and unheard voices. Today, we present a handpicked list of films that fuse queer narratives with Latine creativity, spanning stirring coming-of-age stories to compelling dramas, all poised to inspire, move, and provoke thought.

Mosquita y Mari (2012)

still image from the film Mosquita y Mari showing two women looking at each other


Directed by the gifted Aurora Guerrero, "Mosquita y Mari" is a coming-of-age tale that brings to life the complexities of adolescence, identity, and blossoming queer romance. The film's protagonists, Yolanda, an excellent student, and Mari, a rebellious newcomer, meet as high school friends in their Huntington Park neighborhood in Los Angeles. Their relationship evolves, subtly and authentically, eventually challenging their traditional expectations of friendship and compelling them to reflect on their ambitions and dreams.

Vida (2018-2020)

still image from the series Vida showing two women looking at each other


While not a film, Tanya Saracho's "Vida" deserves recognition for its honest portrayal of Latine and queer lives. This television series presents the story of two Mexican-American sisters from East Los Angeles who return home following their mother's death. The show explores the themes of family, sexuality, gentrification, and identity. "Vida" is groundbreaking in its authentic and unabashed representation of queer Latine characters, and its dedication to inclusivity behind the camera is equally commendable, boasting an all-Latine writers' room and mostly female directorial team.

A Fantastic Woman (2017)

still image from the film A Fantastic Woman


Directed by Sebastián Lelio, "A Fantastic Woman" is a Chilean film that tells the story of Marina, a transgender woman who faces prejudice and discrimination after her partner's death. The film is notable for its delicate handling of transgender identity and for its lead, Daniela Vega, a trans woman, adding authenticity and depth to the character. The movie won an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, reinforcing its critical and cultural significance.

The Garden Left Behind (2019)

still image from the film The Garden Left Behind


"The Garden Left Behind" is a sensitive and thought-provoking film directed by Flavio Alves. This independent film centers around Tina, a young, undocumented Mexican trans woman, as she navigates her daily life in New York City. As Tina struggles with societal acceptance and battles the bureaucracy of healthcare, she finds strength in her community and her relationship with her grandmother. "The Garden Left Behind" provides a rare look into the lives of undocumented, transgender, and immigrant communities, offering a nuanced depiction of resilience and identity.

Sand Dollars (2014)

still image from the film Sand Dollars


Co-directed by Laura Amelia Guzmán and Israel Cárdenas, "Sand Dollars" is a nuanced drama exploring a transactional queer relationship. The film focuses on Noeli, a young Dominican woman and tourist escort, involved in a complex relationship with an older French woman, Anne. Amidst the power dynamics and emotional complexities, Noeli plans to use Anne to secure a visa to reunite with her mother in Barcelona. Based on Jean-Noel Pancrazi's novel, the film stands as a unique addition to queer, Latine cinema with its impending sequel, "Noelí Overseas".

In the shared language of emotion and empathy, cinema has the power to unite diverse experiences. These films represent an important segment of queer, Latine-directed cinema, each offering a unique lens into the realities of queer lives within the Latine context. As the world of cinema grows more inclusive and diverse, we look forward to more such narratives that continue to break barriers and celebrate the diversity of the human experience.

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