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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Latina Pride

Published: September 19, 2008
Section: Arts, Etc.

As part of a series of events dedicated to the celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month, the short documentary, “Latina Confessions,” was featured last Tuesday at the ICC Swig Lounge. The event, organized by AHORA!, was attended by roughly 30 members of the Brandeis community and consisted of the film screening followed by a short discussion session led by the producer of the film, Louis “Tio Louie” Peregro Moreno.

Referred by the producer as a “work in progress,” the film features 25 women selected from a series of 56 interviews who were either born in Latin America or of Latin American descent but are now permanently living in the U.S. Tio Louie explained that we are often presented with the image of a stereotypically uneducated “inner-city” Latina, and that he wanted to show women from the community who are intelligent, educated, and have “huevos,” or chutzpah.

The women – Latinas from Miami, New York City and Los Angeles – were asked to talk directly to the camera about what it means to be a Latina in the United States. Subsequently, they were also asked to answer a second, unexpected question: How does the “Madonna/Whore” Complex affect them?

Though each woman was filmed independently, the overall collection of monologues addresses similar themes – stereotypes and roles that Latin American women are often tacitly asked to portray, the nuances that are lost when a number of different nationalities are bundled into the homogenous term “Latina,” and the emotional wounds caused by feelings of alienation from both Latin America and the United States.

Students were surprised by the quality of information disclosed by the women interviewed. “I was very impressed by how much the women were willing to share about themselves,” said Marisol Portillo ’09, who organized the event.

Some of the Latin American students reported identifying themselves with the women on the screen. “It was interesting to see them say things I think but would never say out loud,” said Liliana Canela ‘09.

Tio Louie expressed a disappointment at the silence of the Latinas in the audience during the discussion. Meredyth Gonzales ‘09 said that it was perhaps the deeply personal nature of the film that rendered the Latin American members of the audience silent.

Nonetheless, the producer seemed very pleased with the outcome of the event. “It was great,” he said, “I made it for this audience – college Latinas who are still struggling with these two different identities. I want to show them that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.”

Tio Louie also addressed some of the difficulties in making this film, caused by his own individual identity as male.

“At the end of the day I’m a man telling stories about women,” he said. The pseudonym emerged as an attempt to minimize that effect.

“I sell myself as ‘Tio Louie,’ the Latino gay uncle,” he said, explaining that this persona better convinced his subjects of his lack of ulterior motives. “That way, they know I don’t want to get into their pants – I’m only interested in culture,” he said.

Lilia Pineda, President of Ahora, was also very pleased with the event. “There was a really good turn-out. And it fit in very well with what we wanted for Hispanic Heritage Month – he offered a view of what it means to be Latina,” she said.