Latin Looks: Images of Latinas and Latinos in the U.S. Media

By Clara E. Rodríguez | Go to book overview

14
Two Film Reviews: My Family/Mi Familia and The Perez Family

Santiago Nieves and Frank Algarin


My Family/Mi Familia

"Fantastic! People loved it! When Latinos see this film, they go crazy!" exclaims Gregory Nava on his film, "My Family" (Mi Familia), which was released last year and is now available on video. I agree. Wherever the film is, go find it, for there are at least three major and important reasons why "My Family" is a must-see for every Latino.

For one, it marks the first time in an English-language theatrical release targeted at Latinos where every single Latino character is actually played by a Latino, not Marisa Tomei, not Lou Diamond Phillips, not Angelica Huston.

Secondly, whatever faults I may have found with the film (and they are few), the film commands a certain integrity and respect by "taking back the very thing the methis always trying to take away from us--our culture and family," as director Nava puts it. Nava also called on the talents of a terrific ensemble of professional Latino actors, who often transcended mere scripted material into that universal connection, an essential in making the film appealing to all audiences.

Thirdly, a Latino has written and directed such a film. Chicano director Gregory Nava, who says that the family is the protagonist of his film, not any one person, fought against Latinos being perceived as a poor subculture. "For the first time in a film, 'Mi Familia' puts family in the center, as it is in our culture."

Not as powerful or riveting as his film, the classic "El Norte," "My Family," written by Nava and produced by Francis Ford Coppola and his American Zoetrope studies, is the epic and sprawling story of three generations of the Sánchez family living on the perimeters of American soil during the 1940's and 50's in "what was still then" Mexico.

-221-

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Latin Looks: Images of Latinas and Latinos in the U.S. Media
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Illustrations vii
  • Introduction 1
  • Notes 11
  • Part One - Latinos on Television and in the News: Absent or Misrepresented 13
  • Notes 19
  • 1: Out of the Picture 21
  • 2 - Hispanic Voices: is the Press Listening? 36
  • Notes 53
  • 3: Distorted Reality 57
  • Part Two - The Silver Screen: Stories and Stereotypes 73
  • Notes 79
  • 4: Visual Retrospective 80
  • 5: Citizen Chicano 85
  • 6 - Stereotyping in Films in General and of the Hispanic in Particular 104
  • References 119
  • 7 - Chicanas in Film: History of an Image 121
  • Notes 139
  • 8: From Assimilation to Annihilation 142
  • 9: West Side Story 164
  • 10: Keeping It Reel? Films of the 1980s and 1990s 180
  • Part Three - Creating Alternative Images: The Others" Present Themselves" 185
  • 11 - From the Margin to the Center: Puerto Rican Cinema in New York 188
  • Notes 199
  • 12: Unofficial Stories 200
  • 13: Type and Stereotype 214
  • 14 - Two Film Reviews: My Family/Mi Familia and the Perez Family 221
  • 15 - Hispanic-Oriented Media 225
  • Notes 236
  • References 236
  • Part Four - Strategies for Change 239
  • 16 - Promoting Analytical and Critical Viewing 240
  • Notes 247
  • Notes 250
  • Notes 253
  • 17 - Questions and Reflections About the Reading in This Book 254
  • 18: What We Can Do 261
  • References 271
  • About-The Book, and Editor 275
  • About the Contributors 277
  • Index 279
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