Almost thirty days ago, filmmaker Aurora Guerrero had enough faith in her community to believe that they would support her first feature Mosquita y Mari (MYM) by donating to her Kickstarter Campaign. She has three hours left and to date the MYM team has raised $75,788 of their $80,000 goal. MYM has almost met their goal, and now has 782 backers, proving that independent Latino voices can be supported by our community.
Team Aurora had vision and the ability to take a risk that Latinos would support and yes, mi gente we’ve proved that if we as Latinos see ourselves reflected in quality content, we will step up to the plate and support. Being a Puerto Rican filmmaker and novelist, I too have faced similar sentiments about Latinos not supporting our own in regards to films and books. My response has been to write the book, I want to see or make the movie that I believe must be made. And as team MYM has proven with a lot elbow grease, a crowd call for support and a cup of cor ázon dreams can become a reality.
Now many of you don’t know the path Aurora has taken to get to this point. The over eight years she’s been writing the script and the many years before that she had the story stewing inside her ready to be shared. If being a filmmaker, a novelist or any artist were easy more of us would chose to do it. It’s a scary thing to risk the security of a day job or tiring to work three jobs just to survive while doing your art. Especially coming from working-class and immigrant families, explaining you want to be a filmmaker, especially after attending college where you could have the choice to have a better job then those of your parents is a process. Making movies is hard for those with money, now add no trust fund or rich family member that can write a check and the fact that many of us also come from families where we have to work to also support our families. Making the choice to seize your vision also comes with sacrifices and moments of doubt.
I sat in the audience with Aurora during Sundance 2011, thinking when will there be more films not only about Latinos, but BY Latinos in which we tell our own stories. Even more courageous is that Aurora will bring to the screen a Latino film with two lead Latina leads that are dealing with family, their own love for each other and healing in a world that often renders us (Latinos, queer people, women) invisible. Making this film will not only show that there is an audience for this type of content, but it will move us towards creating a cinema that has feminist oriented narratives that are diverse and are told by those of us that hail from that very world. Most importantly, and non-white narrative, in this case a Latino story with two female leads can be just as captivating and powerful for a universal audience. I’m not a thirteen year old white boy, but I loved Stand by Me. You feel me?
In 1996, Aurora and I both left San Francisco quitting a job that we both held at a youth leadership program for youth of color. We were both making the choice to continue our work as activist, but our tools would be film, publishing and other media. We both in our hearts knew that dreams were not only something for white people as one of the students in the leadership program told me one day. However, Aurora and I had been blessed with benefiting as children being raised during the post Civil Rights in which People of Color and Latinos, Women of Color feminist/womanists like Audre Lorde, June Jordan, Gloria Anzaldua, Octavia Butler, Julia de Burgos and Cherrie Moraga paved new ways for women to tell their narratives through poetry, essays, novels and theater and now we have this vehicle called film media. Let’s also honor our African American ‘manos y ‘manos who wrote books, made movies and created visibility beyond white on television as a model of what’s always possible. Let’s also acknowledge our Native American brother and sisters that were here before any of us telling stories that were verbally based on from generation to generation. After all, being black and indigenous is a part of the identity that many of us as Latinos carry and must also being reflected in any media.
The success of Mosquita y Mari makes me very emotional today during a time when making movies with a social justice lens is not easy, but was it ever?
I’ve written a novel, it’s not easy but I can do it alone in a room of my own which many of us don’t always have. The challenges become how do you sustain yourself while penning a book as a working class person with radical politics? Or after the book was released, how do you build an audience and explain that to be Latino is not just to speak Spanish. But we do after all, read books in both English and Spanish. We come from diverse nations, immigration status, religions, sexual orientation, etc.. We need platforms for our stories, we need our communities to support our voices by buying a book, taking in a theater performance, supporting a KICKSTARTER campaign and even seeing our film during opening weekend.
Which brings me to the fact that team MYM still needs support!. You have three hours to donate, EVERY dollar counts. How about we not only make the $80,000 goal, but we blow the goal over the top?! How about $100K?
I know they will make an incredible film with the $80K, but being a screenwriter and director myself, I also know that surpassing the KICKSTARTER GOAL during these final hours will give Aurora y team even more tools to do their cinematic magic. In other words, our support does not stop here, donations could still be used by contacting the team even after KICKSTARTER, but let’s represent now.
And when they screen their film, folks need to pack the audience. In other words, the country knows Latinos are growing force to reckon with now let’s continue to utilize those numbers to not only support, but build new ways of making movement among ourselves and with communities that will continue to understand that we must voice our stories, our own way.
Si Se Pudo! Props and love to Team MYM. You’re all inspiring!
If you still want to support MYM on KICKSTARTER:http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/mosquitaymari/mosquita-y-mari-a-new-voice-in-independent-filmmak