Review: Acuitzeramo (2022)

Acuitzeramo (2022) on HBO is one of the best short queer films I’ve seen. It’s both painful and hopeful. He’s the Official Latino Film And Arts Festival page with a trailer, synopsis, director bio, and director statement.

Roberto cut his son in the US out of his life to hide that he was gay. He was made to feel he had to hide by his wife and their communities in both the US and Mexico. He’s been living in a small Mexican town with his partner Salvador for 15 years. Roberto has just died, and Salvador has reached out to his estranged son Anthony to come to the funeral. They speak together about Roberto after as his ghost stands between them.

The core tragedy is that Roberto’s fear of shame severed him from Anthony, but Anthony never would have shamed him, and only loved him more fiercely. I love the way this film explores how bigotry creates all these artificial fears around being queer and how people will treat you or your loved ones for it. And forces those to overthrow real fears like not being there for a kid you love.

Bigotry sunders love. It makes people so afraid that it sunders people who have no cause not to love each other except the vicious lies people tell them. How much better the world would be if we let people keep their love of self and each other.

This film is about the ways we lose our queer elders, even when they’re alive. How they can die two deaths. And the people each leaves behind. That grief.

Absolutely fascinating watching this film the first time seeing the interpretation of Anthony’s reaction through Salvador’s fear of rejection, and then rewatching it a second time knowing what Anthony is really reacting to.

Acuitzeramo (2022) is 15 minutes long, and mostly in Spanish with some English at the end. The body language and tone are so strong and meaningful that they pretty much read on their own without words, too.

It does contain one really painful slur early on to make a point about the realities of homophobia Salvador lives in, and the pain Anthony feels seeing it but has nothing but love and empathy towards its queer subjects. The word is reclaimed by some Mexican communities but used derogatorily in the film.

A+ use of 15 minutes for a film you’ll be thinking about for weeks.

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