The first weekend of June 2022, the Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival, aka LALIFF, took over Hollywood for its 21st year.

An impactful celebration of Latinos on screen and behind the camera, mitú was lucky enough to attend for the weekend and take in the magic of our community.

While we create space for Latinx representation in film and television, it’s vital these spaces go beyond “LGBTQ+ friendly” and are LGBTQ+ freeing. There is no one LGBTQ+ story. As an audience, we must continue to push for more space on screen and places in life, like LALIFF, for these creators to gather.

“Fernanda,” directed by Mary Angélica Molina, aired during the festival’s episodic shorts block and brought some relatable queer chaos to the theatre.

Courtesy of Mary Angélica Molina

The main character, Fernanda, is almost 30 years old and past any sort of boiling point in her life. With a full-time job at a book publisher, the Latina with a radical feminist and progressive perspective, works for a white man who happens to be her friend from college.

When her boss steals her concept about toxic masculinity and turns it into a self-help book for problematic men, “Fer” launches into full self-destruction mode. In a flash, she tackles her boss at a book signing, kisses the wrong girl and yet still has to show up to work the next day because, like all of us, the bills won’t stop coming. 

Courtesy of Mary Angélica Molina

Fernanda has to contend with her desire to have her life and work reflect her values of equality against the reality of an unjust world. This short episodic was a refreshing view of queer culture on screen because the characters were unapologetically flawed and their chemistry was natural. This is definitely a credit to creator and writer Molina, who took the stage at LALIFF after the screening for a brief Q&A.

“I wanted to create a world — a half hour comedy-ish sitcom world — where people talked like my friends talk and say things that my friends say. And where Karl Marx and poop jokes are on the same level and in the same sentence,” shared Molina.

Community is sacred and “Fernanda” also shares a beautiful view of friendship and support. “Fer” must decide what to do about her aspirations to diversify publishing children’s books ideas woven with social issues. But she’s not alone. With her best friends Amy and Bea, she’ll figure out what she needs to do in this world to be who she wants to be morally.

Courtesy of Mary Angélica Molina

With support from the American Film Institute, Sundance Institute, National Association of Latino Independent Producers (NALIP) and Latino Lens Incubators, “Fernanda” has a great future ahead. This slightly raunchy comedy creates space for the imperfectly perfect queer mess in all of us and we’re excited to continue to watch Molina’s career grow.