Jorge Pérez Solano’s La Negrada, is hailed as the “first Mexican fiction film that represents the country’s Black population.” The Afro-Latino community within Mexico faces neglect from their government within the hyper classist societies that are rooted from racial undertones.
The Cinematography award recipient from the 2018 Guadalajara International Film Festival, boasts powerful visuals representing the towns of Oaxaca’s Costa Chica. The audience gets a true sense of the town’s river, fish markets and streets that surround the area. Natural lighting illuminates the film throughout and captivates the audience early on which enables one to understand the stories and struggles portrayed within the poor villages.
From the onset of the film, viewers are immediately drawn to the definition of La Negrada, which is described as, “a term used by black people to refer to themselves, stemming from the discontent they felt and still feel for the racial slur.” The definition o ers an immediate understanding for how Black Mexicans are viewed, which is amplified throughout as the characters often refer to each other with this terminology amongst themselves.
La Negrada is a dense familial love story that is fostered from a relationship between two women that grew up together and later loved the same man. While serious issues are represented like health and financial limitations, the audience is not consumed by a high-drama love-triangle, but rather are exposed to a co-communal acceptance for the circumstances created by Mr. Neri, the male protagonist. The true focus of the film however, are the interactions between the family members as they find ways to survive their circumstances.
The complex family dynamic embodied throughout the film is amplified by excerpts of poetry separating the five days within the story. These poems o er powerful messages like black love, self love, and the struggles of a dying love, among others. While unique to the characters represented in the film, the love story conveyed is one many people can relate to when considering how women often manage the relationships, even within multi-family dynamics.
Beyond the captivating stories within the film, Solano o ers intentional nuggets that highlight the classism felt within the Afro-Latino communities such as an interaction at an immigration checkpoint, a traveller taking pictures of said black individuals and tourists travelling within the small villages being seemingly unaware of the struggles that surround them.
To end the film, Solano includes powerful statistics highlighting the struggles that Black Mexicans face in regards to gaining rights as a marginalized group within a classist society.
While powerful, this film could have done a better job at highlighting the struggles Afro-Latinos face in Mexico. Apart from a few pointed scenes and snippets of interactions one must catch in the background, the film does little within screen time to highlight the specific issues that these marginalized groups face. It was unfortunate to not share the struggles found within a society that often adores “whiteness” over “blackness.”
La Negrada is a fine production that is beautifully filmed and is a positive step within the cinematographic world given the representation it shares. This is a great watch and can be viewed as an Amazon Prime rental for $3.99.