Adelina Anthony on portraying lesbian Latinas and Xicanas in her film “Bruising for Besos”


The new film Bruising for Besos is unique not only because of the lesbian Latinas and Xicanas at its center, but also for dealing with the rarely discussed issue of domestic abuse within lesbian relationships. Ahead of the movie’s world premiere at Frameline, we spoke with its queer writer-director and star Adelina Anthony.

Yoli makes puppets

We talked about her hopes for the film, plans for a sequel and the importance of language and casting in a movie like hers. Adelina also took the time to tell us about how the recent events in Orlando have affected her. Through my correspondence with you, I know you were personally touched by the massacre in Orlando and particularly over the Latino and Latina lives lost there. I wanted to give you a moment to speak to that.

Adelina Anthony: My wife and I have talked about this at length. This massacre, in particular, was extremely devastating to us. And a massacre at this level we would’ve felt anyway, but being queer people of color, Latinas, Xicanas, and seeing the images of these beautiful brown bodies and people of color, every time a photo comes up we see images of our families, we see our friends, and we know very well that it could have been someone that we either know, or it could’ve been ourselves. This incident is, unfortunately, something that we experience viscerally on the day-to-day–just the way that multiple violences affect people who are living at the intersections.

Part of what gives us some peace is knowing that the premiere of this film is happening and will be witnessed by our queer, trans people of color communities. Primarily Xicanos and Latinos, Latinas, who actually funded the project two years ago and made it possible. And we stopped doing any kind of promotion out of respect. The wave of grief has come over us.

But then it’s figuring out what can we do with this that creates change, that creates a legacy that doesn’t allow for these 49 victims to be forgotten and that their murder is not in vain.


AE: Thank you. Moving onto the film now, where did the idea for it come from?

AA: The film was inspired by my solo play, which I wrote and performed under the same title. I started the initial drafts of that solo play back in 2003 under my mentor at the time, Cherrie Moraga, who’s an amazing Xicana activist. And so I started Yoli’s initial monologues in her classes. It was a solo play, and I was playing all these characters, and I knew that I wanted to explore my experience at the time as a young queer Xicana who grew up in a home that had domestic violence and a series of other issues that many people from impoverished communities deal with. I wanted to really examine what does it mean to be raised in this familial environment and then be shaped as a queer female lover and how is it that we carry on the trauma or we repeat the legacies that we think quite often we’ve run away from.

I knew in 2010 that I was going to make my way back into film. I knew that because at the time I was very aware that the digital revolution was also making filmmaking a real opportunity. We have learned so much and at the same time what’s been rewarding is just making a film on our own sovereign terms. This is the first in a trilogy. So once we recover from this film, we’ll put our eyes on the second one.

Yoli meets her match

AE: So there are already plans for a second film?

AA: Yeah. I already have the first draft for the second film, and so our plan is to spend the next year promoting and putting Bruising for Besos out into the world, back into our communities. And in that time, I’m going to be working on rewrites for the second film, and we’re going to be looking for funding. We’re holding out for a really strong distribution deal because if we get a distribution deal, then that will help us cover our debts and will provide the seed money for the second film. The second film has to be shot in Texas, so those are things that we also have to prepare for. But in an ideal scenario, if we find the funding, we can be shooting the second film a year and a half from now. That would be the goal.