Writer Michael Guillén presents this ground-breaking 1970s Mexican film with queer themes.
Less than five years after the American Psychiatric Association removed homosexuality from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) in 1973, Mexican filmmaker Arturo Ripstein bravely challenged entrenched social presumptions by inspiring compassion for the figure of La Manuela (Roberto Cobo), a not-very-attractive, elderly, cross-dressing whorehouse flamenco dancer at odds with the town's patriarch and his hired henchman Pancho (Gonzalo Vega), both of whom are intent on seizing Manuelita's properties. Complicating matters, La Manuela desires Pancho despite himself and seduces Pancho's own conflicted reciprocity. In a dazzling gender provocation, Ripstein maneuvers the narrative's power struggles to a choreographed denouement between the most feminized and the most machismo of men. (1978, 110 min, 35mm)