Portrait einer Puertorikanerin

Frances Negrón Muntaner
USA 1994 | 55 Min. | 16 mm, OF

Ein experimenteller Spielfilm über das Selbstverständnis und die unterschiedlichen Identitätsentwürfe von PuertorikanerInnen in den USA. In einer Mischung aus Spielszenen, Archivaufnahmen und Interviews erzählt der Film die Geschichte von Claudia Marin, einer Puertorikanerin, Lesbe und Photographin, wohnhaft in Philadelphia, USA. Da sie aus einer Mittelschichtsfamilie kommt, ist sie einerseits privilegiert. Andererseits muß sie sich mit ihrer Diskrimierung als Lesbe und Puerto Ricanerin in den USA auseinandersetzen. So wird der Film zu einer Meditation über gesellschaftliche, ethnische und sexuelle Zugehörigkeiten vor dem Hintergrund der komplexen Geschichte der puertoricanischen Erfahrung in den USA.

»What we don’t see is as significant as what we do see. What is missing, is a public forum of discussion of the full range of Puerto Rican social, cultural and political practices. What does it mean to be Puerto Rican in its diversity? In the barrio, outside the barrio, light-skinned, dark-skinned, middle class, working class, straight, queer. In a way, the whole identity discourse completely swallows up all those differences, making all Puerto Ricans a blur of stereotypes and predigested assumptions (…)« When I arrived in the United States, my self-image as a 19-year-old, middle-classed student was shattered. I realized that I was perceived by most Americans as only one thing – a Puerto Rican, and Puerto Rican for them meant a shady , disease-carrying, alwas pregnant, destitute, reckless, killer spic – what they saw in the movies… In the train of these words, I completely lost who I was but gained a new destiny. I turned the TV off in search of an image I’d never seen but knew existed.

Identity discourse is so rigid in many ways: what your identity is and what it isn’t; what you are and what you are not. It’s so linear. It’s very difficult to encompass simultaneity of even opposite feelings in a discourse of identity. For example, while I politically tend to identify as a lesbian, saying I’m a lesbian doesn’t tell you anything about anything. It doesn’t speak to ways of relation in a specific cultural context. It doesn’t tell you about my sexuality which is more complex than »lesbian« seems to imply. What I’m trying to say is the experience will exceed the label.

In BRINCANDO EL CHARCO the narrative form was a way of dealing with non-homogeneity of experience. You have soap opera conventions for certain scenes, such as the scene with the father when he confronts his daughter’s sexuality and there’s a fight. Then you have a kind of a literary voiceover that’s poetic and plays with image that comes from a different documentary tradition. You have all this archival footage that’s used pretty traditionally except the story being told is very different. Then there is the contemporary gay and lesbian demonstration footage. Part of the reason I put it there was you never see that. In Puerto Rico, gay and straight, most people are not aware that there are Puerto Ricans who go in the street and demonstrate around these issues. In that sense, to a post Act Up Anglo film culture these kinds of demonstrations may seem passé. But in a context where they have never been seen to begin with it’s something else.« (Frances Negrón Muntaner)