Film

What Does Afro-Latinidad Mean in the Film World?

Four Afro-Latinas in the film industry discuss Black identity in Latin America and how it’s portrayed through their work.

Each year, the Philadelphia Latino Film Festival’s LOLA awards recognize filmmakers whose work centers around a specific theme. This year, that theme was Afro-Latinidad, or Black identity in Latin America. The 11th edition of the festival included five female filmmakers, four of whom participated in a roundtable discussion of their films and the overlapping themes present in each of them, in particular an affirmation of Black diasporic identity.

Monica Moore-Suriyage is an L.A.-based Afro-Latina filmmaker of Dominican and Sri Lankan heritage. She describes her film La Ciguapa Siempre as “a horror short about a young girl finding out she is one of the mythical Dominican creatures.” Montreal-based Christine Rodriguez is a mixed race, Afro-Trinidadian playwright whose first short film Fuego is a story about an Afro-Cuban man struggling to cope with his new life in Montreal. Interdisciplinary artist Shenny De Los Angeles is a biracial Dominican-American. Her experimental short and 2022 LOLA award winner The Ritual to Beauty was inspired by a one-woman play and discusses De Los Angeles, her mother, and her grandmother’s shared relationship to relaxing their hair, with spoken word and poetry as well. Finally, Black Colombian actress Loren Escandon directs Los Patines, which recounts her “mother’s childhood as a domestic slave in Colombia.”

Below are some of their thoughts on Afro-Latinidad and their films.

Affirming blackness & representation

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Image courtesy of Érica Malunguinho .

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