By Jade Salazar
Ask any lesbian to remember their friendships growing up and you are sure to find numerous tales of intense and sexually charged friendships full of unspoken intimacy. These relationships perhaps never ventured beyond a glance or a touch but felt just as real as any other. In some cases, we took that next step, but in most, we were too young and confused to even grasp those feelings of desire, longing, and sometimes even jealousy.
Herein lies the beauty of Aurora Guerrero’s new film Mosquita Y Mari. This already award winning Sundance film explores the delicate friendship between two young Chicanas growing up in Huntington Park, California. We are introduced to the straight-A and timid Mosquita, also known as Yolanda (Fenessa Pineda) and the rebellious new girl Mari (Venecia Troncoso), and the intimate undercurrent that takes hold of their instant friendship. Sparked when the persistent Yolanda sees potential in her new neighbor, she begins tutoring her in math. The two quickly realize they have more in common than they thought, as they bond over the struggles of coming into their own and the pressures of growing up.
Whether or not you are part of the Latino or LGBT communities, you are not only bound to feel a little vulnerable as you watch your personal experiences played out on the screen in front of you but also validated as Guerrero captures the subtleties and in betweens of these first loves.
“I think that at that time and in that space it’s about intimacy and that is not always portrayed on film. I think film generally looks at young love in a very exploitative way and makes it very much about sex but often times its not about that,” says Guerrero. “I think that’s why people identify with the film. It’s about what is underneath and what is not being said. I really wanted to capture that and bring it to the center and say, ‘This is intimacy. This is just as intimate as a kiss or having sex.’”
Having already been released digitally, Mosquita Y Mari is set to release to DVD June 4, 2013. The film not only puts a much more realistic face to LGBT experiences but it also does the same for the Latino community. Coming from a director that started working in her family’s restaurant at eight years old and dreaming of a normal childhood, it also explores the expectation to respect the sacrifice your parents made and to put everything aside for your school and future. It also shows the lengths our youth will go to help a struggling family.
“In cinema, I hardly ever saw love stories between Latino youth at all. The lives of Latino youth are over-simplified and often criminalized,” says Guerrero. “I saw this from both non-Latino directors and Latino directors. I didn’t grow up like that and a lot of people around me didn’t either. I wanted to tell a young, Latino love story that broke those stereotypes and made them as human as everyone else, while still being realistic with what Latinos have to deal with when they’re working class or immigrants.”
Staying true to representing Latino culture properly, also look out for Guerrero’s next film Los Valientes (The Brave Ones). It tells the story of an undocumented gay immigrant whom a supporting character in Mosquita Y Mari plays.
I knew before the end of the opening montage that “Mosquita Y Mari” was going to be one of my new favorite films and it did not disappoint. Based on her own experience with first love and later deciding not to admit that love in her adult life, Guerrero makes an homage through film and creates a result that is truly the sum of all of our parts.