Bruising for Besos
Bruising for Besos has been living with me for a decade; it is grounded in my emotional truths as a queer Xicana. In 2004, I wrote the first incarnations of the protagonist Yoli’s monologues in Cherrie Moraga’s Stanford University playwriting course, I continued to develop it over the years with workshops and staged readings at local universities and support from cultural organizations like allgo (A Texas Statewide Queer People of Color Organization) and La Peña Cultural Center. The solo play received its full development process and world-premier at the L.A. Gay and Lesbian Center in 2009, where it was produced/dramaturged by Jon Imparato and directed by Rose Marcario. It garnered an Ovation nomination for Best Solo Performance.
In 2012—when I decided to officially move back into the medium of film—I began adapting the solo play into a screenplay. Two years later, after participating in programs such as Outfest Fusion Access, Film Independent Project Involve, and most recently, the Sundance Institute Screenwriters Intensive—I can say I have landed on a version of the story I am very proud to be directing this coming summer. This project has to be done now, because it is timely; because we have access to amazing queer/trans people of color actors and crew members who can bring this film to life; and because, while the costs of production are still expensive for us, the tools of filmmaking have never before made filmmaking so accessible. Most importantly, I want to make a film that speaks to my diverse communities, a film that shows us in a complex light. My artist practice is always about making work that intersects with social justice issues and high entertainment value—about arte as offering and story as medicina.
Bruising for Besos : a charismatic Xicana (Yoli) seduces an alluring Puerto Rican woman and discovers she's recreating her tumultuous past. Yoli's contemporary relationships, be it with friends or lovers, are mired in the domestic abuse she witnessed and experienced as a child. Conceptually, this film is grounded in Xicana spiritual/political practice of looking back to our past in order to move forward. But the film is far from a dirge. In fact, the film's unique blanace between the intensity of the subject matter and its humorous moments give the audience plenty of respite. This too is steeped in the curative powers of laughter, of “sacred clown” aesthetics. As a contemporary story couched within the queer/trans people of color communities of Los Angeles, the story affirms these lives and cultures. Ultimately, Yoli’s journey points her toward a path of healing—a prayer of sorts we can all believe in.
Major roles for Bruising for Besos were cast in the month of March in Los Angeles. We are proud to boast the film not only portrays queer/trans people of color characters, but we are also primarily casting openly queer/trans people of color actors and performers in these roles, with special attention paid to the nuances of each character. After this fundraising effort, we will head into pre-production. The funds will help us reserve locations, officially hire a crew, cast the remaining supporting/cameo roles, as well as conduct actor rehearsals. Our shoot dates are scheduled for July 5-31, 2014. I/we plan to shoot the production utilizing resources and talent from Ventura County, Santa Barbara Count and Los Angeles County. Depending on the amount of funds raised during this campaign we will either head immediately into post-production or begin to solicit funds/grants to help us with that phase of the film.
Our current ultra-low budget need is $80,000, but we are asking for a minimum of $30,000 to get us into production. This will ensure we can acquire necessary camera/lighting/sound equipment, pay for locations/permits/insurance, pay our crew and at least provide stipends to our actors, the costs of wardrobe/set dressing/props and other productions costs. In the event we fundraise more than our ultra-low budget need it would allow us to secure better camera/equipment (which increases our production values), hire more experienced crew who can provide more support to make the production flow smoother, pay actors a better daily rate, and head immediately into post-production; exceeding our fundraising goal means that we can submit Bruising for Besos into the festival circuit sooner, ensuring that we can begin to reach communities by 2015.
Thank you to Alex Valenzy, Marisa Becerra, Karla Legaspy, Sandra Matrecitos, Valerie Mosquera, D'Lo, Natalie Camunas, and Lawrencia Dandridg for helping create our video. Thank you for supporting the vision at hand. It cannot be done without our communities behind us. Your donation is tax-deductible and each donation will receive a ‘perk.’ I/we appreciate you forwarding this to anyone you feel can support this endeavor. Gracias. Tlazocamatli.