Echo Park LA (4 stars)

(15) 90min

Tony Richardson/Shelagh Delaney’s 1961 drama A Taste of Honey is the direct inspiration for this beautifully composed teenage drama. Young Latina Magdalena (Emily Rios) is blissfully preparing for her Quinceañera (15th birthday celebration) dreaming of her white taffeta dress and Hummer limo, when she falls pregnant and is forced by her pious parents to live with her great-great uncle Tomas (Chalo Gonzalez). Tomas also houses Magdelena’s cousin Carlos (Jesse Garcia), a young street kid struggling with his sexuality. Carlos is mostly interested in smoking weed and visiting his affluent gay landlords for nooky and chat. As Magdalana’s pregnancy grows more visible, the outsider family pulls together when faced with their increasingly difficult socio-economic circumstances and in turn gay gentrification gets a sharp cutting down. Shot with a fearless realism, part-documentary, part New Queer Cinema, Echo Park LA finds humour, passion and tense drama in hard-hitting storylines. Winners of the Grand Jury and Audience Award at Sundance 2006 (an accolade given only once before in the history of the festival), queer filmmakers Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland (The Fluffer) have delivered up a celebration and a feast.

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