Queer filmmaker Genevieve Roudané debut documentary is a fascinating study of a queer gang of gender-bending dancers fighting to exist in Chiapa de Corzo a remote small town in Mexico. To celebrate the old year ending and the New Year beginning the men dress up as women for a Fiesta night of dancing and partying in the street. They are known as The Chunta.
Everybody was very vague about the historical beginnings of the tradition, and for several years it faded out completely. Then some 36 years one of the leading local men Geraldo Madrigal Nigenda (know to all as Jerry) decided to revive the tradition.
The Chunta always go around in groups, known as gangs and over the years Jerry’s group known as Madrigal gang became the town’s most successful. Roudané chose to focus her cameras on them during the year leading up to the next Fiesta, amd also on another fledging group Aunty They’s run by the elderly Esther Noriega Molina. She had started this when the Madrigals had physically threatened the life of their only gay member.
Roudané had already made us aware that since the region’s Governor had been elected, violent crimes against the LGBTQ comunity, and transgenders in particular, had soared and there were now weekly murders which apparently were going unchecked. It was no surprise therefore that this tiny town was rife with homophobia.
Aunty They’s fastly expanding group was a safe haven for anyone on the LGBTQ spectrum and created this bond of close sisterhood that the men had never been able to experience before. Naturally they were not content with wearing the traditional women’s clothes that chuntas had always worn , so they set out making theirs as fabulous and as flamboyant but still incorporating all the region’s cultural emblems and symbols.
As Roudané’s camera flitted in between these two very different gangs it was easy to spot their opposing attitudes to sexuality. The Madrigals abhorred the Aunty They members because they looked too glamorous , and they flaunted their sexuality , THe Madrigals were very uptight at the fact that no matter what spin they put on it, they were still after all were a group of crossdressers. They constantly labored their views about being such macho men so much that it started to make one think, that maybe they protest too much!
For several of the LGBTQ people in this small town, joining Aunty They’s gang was their coming out and even though the Fiesta may just last one day in the year, it was clear that the bonds they formed with the other gang members would now greatly enrich their lives, as much as it could in such a closed society.
The Chunta are an intriguing subject and it was so very fascinating to see how a centuries old tradition copes with a contemporary life.
Sadly, the editing left a lot to be desired particularly at times and it had been difficult to keep up with Roudané’s camera which she just allowed to meander way too much
Labels: 2019, cross dressing, documentary