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Bruising For Besos

Breaking the cycle of abuse.


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Adelina Anthony’s feature film Bruising for Besos is an incredibly real story about the cycle of domestic abuse (“besos” is Spanish for kisses). Real because although the subject matter is serious, and some of the scenes are seriously intense, the film oscillates between sexy, sweet, loving moments and the unleashing of demons.

When asked about the film’s light and shade, Anthony said she wouldn’t have had it any other way. “I didn't want to create a dirge or something so painful and without levity that it chokes the audience and eventually turns them off,” she says.

“I'm both a dramatic and comic actor, so when I crafted the story, I remember structuring certain moments that I knew would be humorous to the film's target audiences. Life gives us both…even in our darkest moments, there's always a glimmer of light.”

Anthony produced and directed the film and is superb in the lead role of Yoli, a Mexican-American lesbian and a bit of a player. When she meets Daña, a passionate Puerto Rican, sparks fly instantly and continue as their connection and intimacy builds. Yoli has recently started revisiting her dark past, while Daña, a devoted Catholic, struggles to deal with the sins of the present.

Although it is not strictly autobiographical, Anthony says the message she would like the film to spread is around how necessary it is for us to examine our childhoods, especially if they've been harsh. “Bringing one's childhood wounds to light helps begin the long journey of healing.”

Another strong theme in the film is around our chosen families. Despite some financial hiccups, Yoli loves her life in LA, among her chosen family of trans and queer people of colour.

Life imitated art in the sense that while making the film, cast and crew became family too.

“Despite the intensity of the themes, I can honestly say that my cast and I had an enjoyable time making the film. The actors we gathered around this project were or quickly became our familia,” she explains.

“Actors are that rare breed who actually have a great workday if they feel like they “went there” [to] those places where we get to hold up a mirror to our communities and say, “Look, you're not alone in this feeling or situation.”

“I also highly credit my other producer (and wife), Marisa Becerra, and one of our Spiritual Elders, Nancy Chargualaf Martin, for helping to create wholistic sets where both cast and crew knew they would be taken care of … We had a great experience.”

Bruising for Besos screens at Golden Age Cinema, 22 February, 8.30pm as part of Queer Screen’s Mardi Gras Film Festival. Tickets

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