“Respect my existence or expect resistance.”
Writer and director Patricia Vidal Delgado’s latest film La Leyenda Negra (The Black Legend) focuses on racism and xenophobia towards the Latin communities in America under the Trump government. Starring Mexican-American actress Monica Betancourt as Aleteia, this coming-of-age film is one that not all audiences may be immediately drawn to, but it is still nonetheless a compelling cinematic experience. La Leyenda Negra follows Aleteia, an El Salvador-born, U.S.-raised teenager facing the threat of losing her immigration status, and focuses on challenges in her personal life. These grow after she transitions to a new school where she meets Rosalita, with whom Aleteia’s friendship generates speculation and gossip.
The director’s decision to use background music sparingly, and to shoot the film not in colour is intriguing but effective. The use of black and white helps to show that the world that Aleteia inhabits is not a colourful one.
Here’s The Rundown (Spoiler Alert)
Acting: Monica Betancourt’s debut performance resonates with the viewer long after watching the film. She lets the dialogue and emotions feel natural to the audience, rather than feeling like she is playing a character.
Powerful Topics: The film also shows bullying and deals with the theme of sexual identity. Aleteia and Rosalita have strong feelings towards each other, which is finally confirmed by the film’s end. Rosalita’s friend, Monica, is shown body-shaming Aleteia and bullying her for having feelings for Rosalita.
The delivery seems just right. One of the director’s most significant accomplishments in this film lies in depicting these issues as realistically as possible, without exaggerations.
Coming-Of-Age: La Leyenda Negra is a film that is intended for young adults and those who are interested in real-world issues of racism and identity.
Watch the film trailer here:
La Leyenda Negra is being showcased at the TIFF Next Wave Film Festival
TIFF is calling young people from across Canada to come together at home to celebrate this year’s TIFF Next Wave Film Festival, running February 12–15, 2021. The festival — which celebrates its 10th anniversary this year — will be held online via digital TIFF Bell Lightbox and TIFF social media channels, making the best youth narratives available to viewers across the country for the first time.
Curated for youth, by youth, the titles selected for this year’s lineup demonstrate the power, tenacity, and steadfastness of the next generation, and feature stories of self-discovery and community. The TIFF Next Wave Film Festival offers FREE films for anyone under 25. Complete festival details, including the list of film titles, schedules, and ticket information, are available at tiff.net/nextwave.
BONUS: Faze had a chance to ask TIFF Next Wave Film Festival Committee member Andrea Landaeta a few questions…
How did you become a member of the committee?
I first heard about the Next Wave Film Festival around summer of 2019, and I immediately thought “this is the absolute coolest thing I have ever heard of and I need to know more right now.” I had no experience in anything film-related (I don’t even go to an arts school), but I just knew I had to at least apply. When applications opened up on the Next Wave site for the 2020-2021 year, I spent a solid month editing/rewriting/overthinking the script I wrote for my application video. I put up a bedsheet on my wall, filmed the video on my crappy phone camera, wore my nicest Hawaiian shirt, and completely ignored my script and followed my gut instead (so much for all that overthinking).
About a month later, I got an interview, and I vividly remember that they asked me, “Who would your ‘film parents’ be?”, which I think really shows how easygoing and warm the atmosphere here is. (My answer was Keanu, btw.) Applying to the TIFF Next Wave Committee is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made, and I completely recommend it to anyone who’s passionate about movies and stories! My advice: listen to your gut, always.
How has your experience as a member been?
My time on the Next Wave Committee has been a really amazing time. I’ve gotten to meet so many incredible people and watch so many good movies! Even though programming for a virtual festival has been a challenge, I’m so proud of all the work we’ve done and it’s been incredibly rewarding. Next Wave has a huge focus on amplifying the voices of diverse filmmakers and telling stories that are usually silenced, and this year’s film lineup reflects that perfectly.
Representation is something that’s really important to me and that I wish I had more of growing up, and it means so much to me to have been able to work for a festival that prioritizes exactly that.
What is your favourite film from the festival and why?
They’re all so amazing, it’s hard to pick just one…. but I have to say Scales, directed by Shahad Ameen. I love mermaid lore, I love magical realism, I love stories that use mythology as an allegory for the oppression of women…what more could I possibly ask for?
Watching Scales feels like listening to a fairytale or a poem; it’s minimalist dialogue and stunning cinematography makes it feel even more otherworldly. It’s such a powerful and moving film, I haven’t stopped thinking about it since I first watched it months ago.
If you could only watch one film for the rest of your life, which one would it be and why?
Into the Spider-Verse for sure! It’s my all-time favorite movie, I could watch it forever on repeat and never get tired. The music, the animation, the characters are all absolutely perfect, and there is nothing I would change about it. I’ve seen it about six times since it came out and every time I find something I hadn’t noticed before, and I always find something new to love about it. It is literally the cinematic gift that keeps on giving. If I had to watch this movie for the rest of my life, I think I would die happy.