Philadelphia Latino Arts & Film Festival showcases LGBTQ+ features

A drag queen dances in a scene from ‘Peccadillo,’ which is playing at the 2024 Philadelphia Latino Arts & Film Festival

The 2024 Philadelphia Latino Arts & Film Festival screens online at area venues including Phillycam, at 699 Ranstead Street, and the Cherry Street Pier, 121 N. Christopher Columbus Boulevard, through July 7. 

There are dozens of LGBTQ+ features, shorts and documentaries playing over the next few weeks. A handful of films were not available for preview. “You, Me & Her” (June 14 at 6 p.m. at the Cherry Street Pier) concerns a couple — Mags (Selina Ringel) and Ash (Ritesh Raja) — who consider a threesome when they meet Angela (Sydney Park) while on vacation. The Argentine drama, “León” (June 21 at 5:30 p.m. at the Cherry Street Pier), has Julia (Carla Crespo), a lesbian fighting for the custody of her son León after her partner dies. And “Kenya” (June 21 at 8 p.m. at the Cherry Street Pier) is a documentary about a trans sex worker seeking justice after witnessing the murder of her friend. 

There are also dozens of LGBTQ+ films available online. The virtual features and shorts programs become available on Sundays at 12 a.m. and can be unlinked through Saturday at 11:59 p.m. Once unlocked, the films can be viewed for a 24-hour period.

Here is a chronological rundown of a handful of LGBTQ+ films to watch in theaters or at home at the Philadelphia Latino Film & Arts Fest. 

“Memories of a Penitent Heart,” (June 15, at 7 p.m. at the Fleisher Art Memorial, 719 Catharine Street), by Cecilia Aldarondo, is a poignant documentary from 2016 about the filmmaker seeking out her late uncle Miguel’s lover, Robert, decades after Miguel has died from AIDS. Miguel was estranged from his family when he moved to New York City from Puerto Rico, and Robert was shunned by the family after Miguel had passed away. Aldarondo investigates the reasons behind her family’s treatment of Miguel and Robert, discovering long-buried family secrets in the process. It is a remarkable well-told story.

Likewise, the documentary, “Neirud,” (available online June 16) is director Fernanda Faya’s homage to her “aunt” Neirud — a woman who was part of her family, but unrelated to her. As Faya uses home video footage, photographs and interviews to recount Neirud’s life living and working with Faya’s grandmother, Nely, who ran a circus and a women’s wrestling club. Neirud — who had enough strength that she could use two sledgehammers at once to erect the circus tents — was a star attraction. Known as the “gorilla woman,” Neirud was allowed to fight men, which was risky at the time. Moreover, female wrestling was illegal. It is probably no surprise to anyone other than director Faya that Nely and Neirud were a couple, but this engaging documentary shows what living a double life was like for women in Brazil in the last half of the 20th century and how they subverted convention to live their lives.

A person sits on stair steps while vogueing in a scene from ‘Mi Coro’
‘Mi Coro’

The short documentary “Mi Coro” (June 20 at 5:30 p.m. at the Lounge at Phillycam) showcases trans and nonbinary voguers Moréna Espiritual (who also directed) and Zury Cambujo, among others, as they discuss their negative experiences with cis heterosexuals. Later scenes showcase them practicing and performing their dance routines, and there is some fabulous ballroom footage as well. It would be great to see this short expanded into a larger feature.

On June 21, at 7:15 p.m. at the Cherry Street Pier, two shorts depict young men learning to embrace their queerness. “Wishful Thinking” is a cute, clever, and autobiographical comedic short by Rodrigo Carvalhedo about his coming out process. On his birthday, Rodrigo’s Brazilian family video calls him in America to wish him well, while his American boyfriend, Chris (Christian Kolb), arranges a little party for him and their friends in their home. However, Rodrigo’s anxiety about being closeted causes him tension in both celebrations. Rodrigo uses his birthday wishes to find the right time, place, and way to tell his parents (Fernanda Ruas and Artur Kratz) that he is gay. Mixing humor and heart, Carvalhedo’s film features some amusing and awkward moments as well as a terrific coming out speech. Also showing in the program is another coming out short, the charming “Peccadillo,” a dramatic fantasia about Lorenzo (Huitzili Espinosa), who has been keeping his interest in dresses a secret. His abuela, Dolores (Magda Garza), warns him about sin, prompting the Devil himself (Pablo Levy/Eva Blunt) to appear. As Lorenzo is fascinated by the drag queens outside a club, he becomes hypnotized when he ventures inside the queer space. But will he go as far as donning drag himself? Perhaps performer Raziela Rubi (Eia Noel), can convince Lorenzo to live his fantasy rather than stay in his reality. Writer/director Sofia Garza-Barba’s short traverses familiar territory with the fairy drag queen trope, but “Peccadillo” delivers its message about being true to yourself with joy.  

The inspiring documentary, “Blooming on the Asphalt” (available online June 23), chronicles five years in the life of Jack Celeste, a trans teen in Brazil starting in 2016. Jack is first seen talking about his transition — e.g., wanting to have a beard, and discussing how he has gained weight, and his voice has changed. He is later seen taking T and meeting with a doctor about getting a masculinizing mammoplasty. “Blooming on the Asphalt” features many observational episodes that depict Jack and his trans and nonbinary friends showing resistance and resilience by marching in Pride parades and becoming advocates/activists. There are a few segments involving a trans spiritualist/witch that could be cut, but watching Jack come of age and (re)claim space for the trans, queer, and nonbinary community is empowering.

A person applies lipstick to another person in a scene from ‘Blooming on the Asphalt’
‘Blooming on the Asphalt’

On July 7 at 6:30 p.m. at the Cherry Street Pier, the festival is hosting a music video program which includes the absolutely fantastic short, “Born Crying” about two young friends, José (André Nuñez) and Secho (Ismael Pérez) who share a homoerotic bond. Secho is training his body for the Marines and the ladies, while the more studious José silently admires him and suggests that they leave their hometown and go live together. When the guys go out with friends one night, the drunk Secho admits his attraction for José in the men’s room. And when the guys are discovered kissing passionately, Secho has a “no homo” moment, and reacts violently. It is at this point in the story that “Born Crying” shifts its form, turning into a music video with songs that express José’s emotions and memories, and he imagines a world with and without Secho. It’s a canny approach to the storytelling and it is stylishly presented by writer/director Fernando Cattori. “Born Crying” is a beautifully realized film about sexuality, desire, masculinity and vulnerability.

For details on the Philadelphia Latino Film & Arts Festival’s films, including tickets and showtimes, visit

Newsletter Sign-up