Chiva Pod: Movies with Latinx Leads

Welcome to Chiva Pod, a bilingual podcast for the Latinx community in the San Francisco Bay Area!

Host Sebastian takes a different approach for stories during Hispanic Heritage Month, and reporter Marlyn Sanchez Ñol joins to talk Latinx-led movies.

 

 

 

TRANSCRIPT:

Intro

Seb: Bienvenidos a Chiva Pod, I’m your host Sebastian Miño-Bucheli. 

Are y’all enjoying the Herencia playlist series? It’s not this episode though!

Ya se nos acaba el mes but this podcast will still be around. So no te vayas.

Maryln Sanchez Ñol, joins us for the main story. We’re going to talk about movies.

We’re going to skip the news headlines for the episode. Let’s go on to the news.  Listo? 


Main Story


Seb: You’re at a party, with your panas, your best friends and primos/primas, your cousins. Hispanic Heritage Month just finished and someone talks about watching the most recent Latinx Superhero movie.

The conversation goes silent. Which one? Spy Kids?

Yeah Hispanic Heritage Month just finished but does talking about latinx actors just goes away? We’re everywhere.


Marlyn: A good starting point for this big conversation would be to look at the history Latinos have in the world of the large screens and just how active or non active for that matter, Latino characters have been in storylines. 

It’s no secret that Latino representation in movies falls pretty far behind in Hollywood even though the Hispanic population in the U.S. reached a record 60.6 million in 2019.

Latinos have become and definitely continue to be a large part of the world’s demographics and you can almost see this really anywhere you go, especially if we are taking a look at  the state of California.


Seb: That’s our guest, Marlyn Sanchez-Ñol! She’s a staff writer at Golden Gate Xpress and we were shooting ideas back and forth about if we could find movies with Latinx actors in Lead roles.

 

Marlyn: To really put this into perspective an article about Hispanic population in the Pew Research Center recorded that Latinos are the second largest racial/ethnic group after white non-Hispanics. So if there was ever a doubt that there is a Latino presence I think these numbers definitely shot that right down. 


Seb: Maryln is right. If Latinx actors aren’t playing the villain or maid in the movie, we’re not represented on the silver screen. We’re in the year 2021 and we still have 4.9 % of Latinx actors represented in Hollywood, according to the most recent Annenberg Inclusion Initiative study.

So I wanted to take this episode to put a spotlight on movies with Latinx lead actors. If you don’t think that’s easy….just you wait. There’s actually a list of movies we came up with, that anyone can watch.

Later in the episode you’ll meet Gilberto Rivera Troncoso. We interviewed him to get his input. GIlberto is currently the acting president of Aperturas/Aperatures: A Bilingual Cinema Club at San Francisco State. He loves movies.

*Sounds of cinema plays*

Seb: Marlyn,  what’s your history of watching movies? Any specific genre you like watching.


Marlyn: I would have to say dark comedies, and drama for both series and movies, but as I’ve gotten older and experienced different types of storylines, I would say I now include rom-coms in my list as well…Honestly I just need my daily dose of Spanish everyday, otherwise it doesn’t feel complete.


Seb: What’s on your list Marlyn?


Marlyn: Share your list too!


Seb: We’ll see.


Marlyn: I’m happy to go through a pretty diverse list here, with everything from drama to comedy and maybe anything in between that really digs at people’s emotions. I know I always enjoy a good cry sesh with my movies…that’s just me.  Most of the cast members in these shows and movies are either all Mexican or of Latino descent.

The first on my list is “Instructions Not Included” (No se Aceptan Devoluciones).

This movie follows Mexican actor Eugenio Derbez, one of my favorites, who becomes faced with the unlikely role of fatherhood and how he navigated that role, with his daughter played by Hispanic actress Loreto Peralta. The story also highlights an absent mother, played by Mexican actress Alessandra Rosaldo, who is actually Derbez’ wife, until she reappears once again, trying to claim full custody of her child. They soon find out their child is diagnosed with cancer and she has very little time to live. There’s a definite good cry at the end.


Seb: For the non-Mexican audience members, you’ve heard Eugenio Derbez play Donkey in the Spanish dub version of “Shrek.” This actor has been everywhere and finally is a lead actor for movies.


Marlyn:
He just elevates any movie he’s in.

“The Fosters” is actually a show that I watched on Hulu for the first time and it’s one of those shows I really love. It’s about the life of police officer Stef Foster, school principal Lena Adams Foster, their adopted multiethnic family, and Stef’s biological son from her previous marriage. One of the adopted children, Mariana, is played by Latina actres Cierra Ramirez. This show does a very great job at giving perspective of what it was like for Mariana and her twin brother to grow up in San Diego, attending a charter school, where almost none of the kids were Latino so there are culture barriers she never even knew she would have to get through.

Seb: I actually never have heard of “The Fosters” and I have a subscription through Hulu. I might pick it up since it stars a multi-ethnic family. 

 

Marlyn: So this movie “Miss Bala” is more of an action movie that brings out some of the more negative and true aspects of Mexico.

 

Seb: What do you mean by that?

Marlyn: It could be said it’s loosely based on the incident with Laura Zuniga, the 2008 Miss Sinaloa who was arrested under suspicion of connection with the cartels in Guadalajara, Jalisco.

In this movie, actress Gina Rodriguez must face the cartel in Mexico when her friend is kidnapped from a nightclub in the border town of Tijuana,Mexico. Rodriguez or Gloria Fuentez in the film, finds herself in a sort of dilemma after she becomes involved with a corrupt cop played by Ismael Cruz Córdova who is also involved in cartel affairs. She is faced with the decision to do what is morally right or band with these cartels that kill, sell drugs, and torture to keep her family safe. So that’s a storyline filled with a lot of action.

Seb: How do you feel about narco content in the mainstream media? I have a hard time recommending Netflix’s “Narcos” series that pits Pablo Escobar and the DEA and it doesn’t hide the truth? But the violence is glorified to an extent.

Marlyn: It’s very interesting to see how they don’t make an effort to hide anything at all. Everything is exposed and raw for the world to see and I dont think it’s a bad thing. It’s very realistic and we need more of this exposure in our media for adults, of course.

I chose “A Little Bit of Heaven.” The storyline follows Kate Hudson, a free spirited woman who is diagnosed with colorectal cancer and she falls in love with her doctor, played by Mexican actor Gael García Bernal, another great. The unlikely relationship teaches both of the individuals valuable lessons in their lives about love, life, and the ability to take pain and create happiness. This film is a good mixture between a feel-good film and one that will possibly make you take out your Kleenex box for the emotional rollercoaster you will be in for. What I thought was done extremely well was the placement of Bernal as one of the protagonists, in a role of power and education, this sort of very foreign concept for Mexican actors in blockbusters.

 

Seb: If you could recommend another Geal García Bernal, what would it be?

Marlyn: I would recommend watching “Amores Perros.” It’s another great one, but it is entirely in Spanish so be prepared to read captions. Its plot is very interesting. There’s a lot of action, drama, and a car crash that leads to some very interesting paths crossing, but I don’t want to spoil anything so I’m just going to stop there.

Seb: We’re down to the last one on your list, I’m excited to hear what it’s all about! 

 

Marlyn:  “Forever Purge” is one of my favorites. I would place it high on the list of great movies. It begins with the odyssey of a couple in which Mexican actress Ana de la Reguera stars as the wife of Mexican actor Tenoch Huerta immigrates to Texas, where racism is rampant, while also seeking a better life, deal American life. The day after the “purge” or this long period where anything and everything is legal…including murder. This couple must band together in order to save their lives from the purgers seeking to “purify” the nation.

Seb: You can find Marlyn’s list on the Golden Gate Xpress website!

Seb: We’re gonna take a quick break – 

 

Break

Support the publication’s work by, by following Golden Gate Xpress @ GGXNews  and visiting the student publication website: https://goldengatexpress.org

 

*Break ends*


Seb: Hey we’re back.

Thought before sharing my favorite pick, I’d talk to Gilberto Rivera Troncoso. He’s the currently acting president of Aperturas/Aperture, A Bilingual Cinema Club and trying to resurrect the club since COVID-19 made meeting in-person difficult.

Gilberto: Yeah, I actually also have “Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse”  on here too. And I have that one because yeah it’s something, it’s of descendants, I think it’s Latino….if I’m wrong… um, I read a little bit about the actor. I think he also has Jamaican descendancy, if that’s how you say it. And it’s kind of cool.

Seb: Before the new Spider-Man was announced, actual Marvel fans were waiting for the Afro-Latino rendition of Spider-Man. A lot of fans had read the recent comics featuring Miles Morales, but this time he was casted in a movie for Sony Pictures. Fans really wanted Childish Gambino casted. In our talk with Gilberto, we couldn’t shy away from “Estar Guars” and how much Latinos love the movies too.

Gilberto: I had “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” with Diego Luna. I am not a fan of the sequel trilogy,, but [I had] the “Star Wars” sequel trilogy with Oscar Isaac as Poe Damon.

Seb: Other parts that are cool to mention in the “Star Wars” universe is that George Lucas incorporated Princess Leia’s space buns after the woman fighters of the Mexican Revolution, the side that fought against tyranny.

Marlyn: I’ve actually never seen “Star Wars.” See for me I know nothing about “Star Wars” at all, and I had no idea there were Latino characters. But I do think it’s amazing that such a popular film that a bunch of people know, include these characters and have the world see them in a setting like the one for these types of movies, just really setting them outside the box.

Gilberto: For Star Wars and the case of the sequel trilogy, I feel like, we all like Star Wars. We were also raised with the culture, pop culture references and, um, you know, knowing that a character is also an actor. Um, so, yeah, it actually has a character, has some sort of Latino descendancy. Personally, I didn’t know Oscar Isaac was from our roots in Guatemala. So at first I didn’t know until you started seeing news like, oh, the Latino actor in the “Star Wars universe,” I’m like, oh, cool. It’s super…I guess emotional at some point for some people too.

 

Seb: You also get to really look at the number of people who watch movies like “Star Wars.’ I mean really these Latinx actors are getting that worldly recognition right?


Gilberto: “Modern Family” shows like with Sofía Vergara who’s the mom of one of the family that are in there there, and I think it’s great because it shows the influence of the more family dynamic.

 

Marlyn: There’s definitely that strong aspect of family and it’s interesting how SofíaVergara, in “Modern Family”, is almost at the center of it all. Sort of pulling at this familiar idea that family is so important to us Latinos…such a true aspect that could really be appreciated for its reality.

Seb: Yeah I agree. I think It’s one of those roles where a character still remains close to the representation of her culture but gives it a new twist  with the mix of all these other characters. I feel like I have have issues with Sofía Vergara playing up her accent… it reminds me of my mom being made fun of for her accent even though she can defend herself in English.

Marlyn: Yeah that could be a sensitive topic for many because it feeds into the stereotypes and bullying behavior towards Hispanics and Latinos at large in the United States. I would very much agree that there is some sort of feeling towards why she does that, it’s almost like she’s riding off the wave of that attention.

 

Seb: So we couldn’t not talk about “Shrek” at all in this episode. Gilberto had this to say. 

 

Gilberto: Dubbings and mostly for Latin America…and it can be by country or for the whole Latin America. They usually add little…like slang[s]. Y’know that people catch on and create more interest and make it more appealing. Y’know, if you listen to English dub, there will be slang and jokes and gags that are mostly for American people. And I think not only that, but adding um, Latino actors and actresses and voice actors…I think in the Spanish one they have Eugenio Derbez, who is a comedian right? And Antonio Banderas I think is doing and singing in Spanish I guess?

 

Marlyn: For sure, I think “Shrek” in Spanish is one of those movies that was offered every Sunday on channels like Telemundo or Univision because it’s such a family movie and it’s something our audience would be able to understand. 


*Music shifts*

 

Gilberto: I think that Spy Kids is like my childhood that I feel like I watch a lot. I don’t know, I just want to comment, I remember seeing that they’re going to the submarine, that they bring up the McDonalds stuff like that. But yeah, I don’t think at any point, like, they specify, like all where we’re Latinos, I mean, it doesn’t apply, of course, like with the names and with the family. But I guess I don’t know, I, I’m pretty sure like regardless of that, like a lot of people like to watch a film because it’s you know, it’s a spy movie and it’s a kid who wants to be a spy. But I think it’s a good example of how you can have something like this. Latino characters, but still make it like that specific for an audience like it can be for everyone pretty much. 

 

Marlyn: I would agree. “Spy Kids” is one of universal films that anyone really can watch, it doesn’t target a specific audience except for like its storyline of course which is based on kids. Besides that I think anyone could really look at it and really think about the sort of effect having this Latino family in this almost like classic. It’s a big deal and I think it was one of the biggest steps taken for increased representation. The world was really able to say this is happening in our films and it’s a good thing, it’s not a villain, it’s not a character or characters without power, it’s this family that is working towards a goal together, doing something positive. 

 

End

Seb: And that was the episode. Thanks for being on the Chiva Pod, Maryln, you’re the first guest reporter featured on the show.

Marlyn: No pues, muchas gracias por invitarme. I really enjoyed this talk.

Seb: My name is Sebastian Mino-Bucheli, I’m your host of Chiva Pod.

New episodes will premiere on the weekends. And with that I’m signing off.