“The Chunta” Delves into Gender-Bending Tradition in Mexico

A Minnesota-raised filmmaker debuts her cross-cultural doc at the Twin Cities Film Festival
"The Chunta"
“The Chunta”

Photo by Catalina Ausin

When Minnesota-raised filmmaker Genevieve Roudané moved to Mexico, she wanted to find an open and accepting LGBTQ+ community. That seemed to be happening when she attended the Fiesta Grande, a party of extravagant costumes and gender bending.

“We don’t know why men began dressing up as women,” says Gerardo Madrigal, one of the thousands of men who partake in the annual small-town festival. In the U.S., drag is inextricably part of queer culture. But Madrigal’s wife helps apply his makeup.

Roudané’s documentary The Chunta examines the complicated dynamics of this Mexican tradition, to premiere at the Twin Cities Film Festival on Saturday, October 26. Gay and transgender dancers, she discovers, often can’t find an in, even though the Fiesta Grande appears to be all about showily transgressing gender norms. While gate-keeping straight men painstakingly hand-craft dresses and crowns, the leader of a rival group takes flak for allowing gay people into the ranks.

"The Chunta"
“The Chunta”

Photo by Elena Martinez

“I made this film as part of my dream of breaking down the wall between queer communities in the U.S. and Mexico,” Roudané said in a press release. “We need stories about LGBT people from around the world­—their hopes and dreams, everyday lives, and everyday struggles. We need to challenge stereotypes about Latinx identity and sexuality.”

The film has picked up festival awards and screened across five continents. The Twin Cities Film Festival marks its Midwestern debut, at the ShowPlace Icon Theatres in St. Louis Park. Roudané will sit for a Q&A after the 2:40 p.m. screening.

The Chunta
Twin Cities Film Festival
ShowPlace Icon Theatres
1625 West End Blvd., Minneapolis