An earnest coming of age story about the friendship between two 15-year-old Latinas growing up in the predominantly Mexican neighborhood of Huntington Park, Los Angeles, Mosquita y Mari, explores the growing bond between college-bound Yolanda (Finessa Pineda), and Mari (Venecia Troncoso), a street-savvy, undocumented teen who moves in across the street. Despite their contrasting realities, the girls are brought together after an incident thrusts them into a delicate dance of adolescent self-discovery and sexual awakening. Capturing intersecting issues of gender, sexuality, race, class, and migration, Mosquita y Mari has been recognized internationally for its exploration of urban queer Latina identities. A semi-autobiographical movie written and directed by Aurora Guerrero, Mosquita y Mari premiered at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival.
Aurora Guerrero’s debut feature is inspired by her personal experiences with complex same-sex friendships she had while growing up, as well as the themes of migration and loss that permeated her childhood. Guerrero writes: “When looking back, long before I identified as queer, I realized my first love was one of my best friends. It was the type of friendship that was really tender and sweet but also sexually charged. Despite the fact that we had the makings of a beautiful teen romance we never crossed that line. The beginnings of Mosquita y Mari was reflecting back on that time and asking myself the questions, why didn’t we cross that line and what kept us in ‘our place’?” Guerrero notes that although she did not grow up under the explicit threat of disownment for coming out as gay, silences around sex and desire, along with societal expectations prompted her to censor her burgeoning affections.
Growing up the daughter of immigrant parents in a working class household in San Francisco, CA, Guerrero struggled with the pressure to live up to family expectations. Perceiving the sacrifices made by her parents after their migration to the United States from Mexico, Guerrero reflects that her sense of familial obligation spurred her motivation to achieve: “When I look at my parents, I see their journey to the U.S. has come at a huge cost. How do I ignore that? Children of immigrants often feel like we have to deliver on the American Dream so our parents’ actions aren’t in vain.” This conflict resonates throughout Mosquita y Mari, as the characters struggle to discover what lies beyond their family obligations.
By embarking on a process of self-exploration while writing the script, Guerrero was able to position this unique story of first love within the immigrant experience. Mosquita y Mari captures a world where intersecting identities of age, race, class and sexual orientation allow her protagonists to locate new pathways for themselves and their families.