Review: LA QueenCiañera
- Pedro Peira follows Bambi Salcedo, a transgender Mexican woman who, before becoming a political activist, used to walk on the wilder side of life
In some Ibero-American countries, turning 15 means leaving childhood behind and embracing adult life, a moment marked with a big party where the young girls dress up like Christmas trees and celebrate with their loved ones: this event was the focus, for example, of the short film Cuba 15 (1997), directed by Elizabeth Kamir Schub. But in LA QueenCiañera [+see also:
film profile] –the second full-length film by Spaniard Pedro Peira (a producer who started directing feature films in 2014, with Música maestros), presented in the History Time section at the 66th edition of the Seminci - Valladolid International Film Festival - the person celebrating her pride in becoming a full woman is Bambi Salcedo, a trans Mexican woman bravely fighting for the rights of transgender people in the city of Los Angeles.
With the participation of well-known figures such as actors Rosario Dawson (credited as executive producer of the documentary) and Patricia and Rosanna Arquette (recalling their late sister Alexis, who was also transgender), LA QueenCiañera is, above all, a revindication of the transgender rights, and the fight for full equality and social integration. With the camera glued on the courageous and temperamental Bambi, the film portrays her political battles, her approaches to the White House and her meetings with colleagues from pro-trans integration associations such as the Coalición TransLatin@ and the NGO Angels of Change.
Moreover, as Bambi is preparing for her first QueenCiañera party, with the whole pageantry of feathers, music and strong arms to carry her like the Queen of Sheba, Peira recalls the incredible life of the long-lost Armando, a Mexican lad from a traditional family of emigrants to the US, including his time in prison, as an HIV positive sex worker, and how he found his new life, family and home in Los Angeles.
The documentary includes interviews with Bambi’s family, a visit from her father (who finds it very hard to accept his daughter as she is), a tour around the more unsavoury parts of the city (where the protagonist was drawn into the hell of addictions) and her appearances in parades, events where she takes pride in her Mexican roots and political acts: all this builds up a picture, with the help of animated sequences to illustrate some of the darker times in Bambi’s life, created by Fernando Marcilla, from Monógrafo Estudio (Notes For a Heist Film [+see also:
interview: León Siminiani
film profile])– a portrait of a true force of nature, of volcanic energy, who puts every drop of effort she has into preventing others from suffering the same misfortunes as her; a person who is not well-known in Spain, but who is doing amazing work for human rights in the US.
(Translated from Spanish by Alexandra Stephens)
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