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PBS Short Film Festival spotlights work by queer, Nicaraguan-American

PBS Short Film Festival

In this photo from “Joyride,” Juana (Blanca Araceli), left, laughs with Marina (Jennifer Trevino), center, and Karina (Stacy Patino), right, as Karina. Photo: Cundina Collective.

As filmmakers we oftentimes bury aspects of our lives, only to witness the ways those lived experiences blossom in our work.

My film “Joyride” is one part family history, one part personal narrative, and one part homage to survivors of domestic violence. It tracks the ways in which intergenerational dialogues are critical not only to our healing, but also the healing of the generations after us.

‘Joyride’

“Joyride” is about teenage Latinx sisters, Marina and Karina, who are enlisted by their abuelita, Juana, to break her out of her senior living facility for one last joyride. On their road trip to the Grand Canyon, Juana reveals the painful family history that will change their lives forever.

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PBS Short Film Festival

Edwin Alexis Gomez is the writer and director of “Joyride.” Photo: Edwin Alexis Gomez.

Being queer, poetic influences

Being queer and Nicaraguan-American are frames of reference that influence my work. My queerness always comes through in my color palette as well as the writing of characters that are typically the pink sheep of the family. Usually, those characters embark on a journey to find their place in the world and experience the camaraderie of those who understand them on every level. 

From a young age, a love of poetry was instilled in me by my mother, who always referred to Nicaragua as a tierra de poetas, a land of poets. Growing up, Rubén Dario and Pablo Neruda painted the most beautiful images in my mind with their masterful use of metaphor and simile. Their words always bent the reality of my world, which has influenced not only the way I write, but also the visual language employed in my films.

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This intersection of my identities is always fertile ground from which to create. It seeps into everything I write and direct. 

Queer Latinx representation is critical to the healing of the communities I am a part of. Film is one of the most effective ways of influencing the narratives we tell ourselves off screen.

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Building bridges

It’s easy to demonize people that are not immediately in our circle. There have been times in my life when my Nicaraguan identity has made me feel unwelcome in LGBTQ2S+ spaces, and my queerness has made me feel unwelcome in the Latinx community

We must continue building bridges to each other, especially in the times we are living in. The more specific our narratives, the more universal the stories we are telling. This is a truth the industry still needs to realize, and something I am constantly exploring in my films.

“Joyride” will be streamed as a part of the PBS Short Film Festival, which runs from today to July 24. The festival is presented by Latino Public Broadcasting. The festival will stream on all PBS platforms, including PBS.org, YouTube, Facebook, and the PBS App.

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About the author

Edwin Alexis Gomez

Edwin Alexis Gomez is a queer Nicaraguan-American multidisciplinary artist and filmmaker. He wrote and directed "Joyride."

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