Friday, January 16, 2015

UNO Film Department Hosts Shotgun Cinema Screening of "Pelo Malo"

UNO Film Department Hosts Shotgun Cinema Screening of "Pelo Malo"The University of New Orleans Film Department held a screening of Pelo Malo, an award-winning drama about homophobia and racism,
in the run-up to Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Students and faculty enjoyed a Skype interview with director Mariana Rondón.

In the run-up to Martin Luther King Day, the University of New Orleans Film Department helped to spotlight issues with a screening of Bad Hair (Pelo Malo), marking the New Orleans premiere of Venezuelan director Mariana Rondón’s award-winning drama about homophobia and racism.

Immediately following the screening at the Robert E. Nims Theatre at the University of New Orleans Performing Arts Center, Rondón participated in Skype interview to campus.

“UNO has exceptional facilities, and we’re thrilled that they’re sharing them with us for our first screening of the year,” said the film’s technical director Travis Bird. “It’s not a long trek from downtown, and well worth the visit.”

The screening, which was open to UNO students, staff and faculty, as well as the general public, was hosted by Shotgun Cinema, a local moviehouse that aims to educate and expand the film community of New Orleans “by exhibiting new and repertory motion pictures with a high standard of film and digital projection, and seeks to engage south Louisiana filmgoers year-round with world cinema culture and history.”

Pelo Malo, a 93-minute film produced in Spanish with English subtitles, takes place in Venezuela. According to a synopsis, nine-year-old Junior (played by Samuel Lange Zambrano) believes he has bad hair: he wants his curly locks to be straight, and is preoccupied with getting them that way to look like his favorite pop singer.

“He steals furtive glances at an older neighborhood boy and sings and dances with private relish. All this annoys and increasingly infuriates his high-strung mother Marta (Samantha Castillo), who doesn't accept that her son (although he doesn't have words for it yet) is gay,” the film synopsis states.

“As her disgust grows and she pushes him away, he's forced into making a difficult decision. Astoundingly nuanced performances by both mother and son reveal the layered tension between them with ramifications far beyond the film's story itself.”

UNO film instructor Henry Griffin sees the screening and Rondón's presence as "a big deal" and "a sign of things to come."

“This is not only an important film in regards to Venezuelan cinema, but it’s also a fantastic work from a female director of color,” said programming director Angela Catalano, who called Pelo Malo "a culturally complex film.”

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