Latinx Film and Media

Gentefied’s The Grapevine (Marvin Lemus and Linda Yvette Chávez 2020-2021)

Gentefied is a Mexican American comedy-drama television series created by Marvin Lemus and Linda Yvette Chávez, that premiered on Netflix in 2020. Sadly, it was cancelled after two seasons in 2022. Gentefied follows the story of three Mexican-American cousins and their struggle to survive in dignified ways in contemporary Los Angeles. As the title suggest, the series centers on how gentrification affect the Mexican primos threatening the things they hold most dear: their neighborhood, their immigrant grandfather, and the family taco shop.

What is gentrification?

Gentrification occurs when wealthier realty corporations, individuals or families move into a neighborhood, often attracted by lower property prices. As these newcomers invest in the area by renovating homes, opening businesses, and improving infrastructure, property values rise. This increase in property values can lead to higher rents and property taxes, making it difficult for existing residents, especially those with lower incomes, to afford to stay. Gentrification can also bring changes to the neighborhood’s culture and character, as new businesses and residents may not reflect the diversity and traditions of the original community.

Discussion questions:

1. Elaborate on the interconnected challenges brought by gentrification and represented in the episode:

.family separation


.neglect/erasure of local cultures and small businesses

.job insecurity

.dangerous and unhealthy working conditions

.different forms of displacement

2. What tactics do the characters in the show employ to resist or negotiate the effects of gentrification in their lives?

The Garden Left Behind (Flavio Alves, 2019)


The Garden Left Behind follows Tina (played by Carlie Guevara), a Mexican trans woman who moved to New York City as a child and, as an adult, lives with her grandmother, Eliana. Eliana is a loving figure who sometimes has difficulty understanding Tina’s transition and overall existence as a diasporic working woman.

During the film, Tina must struggle with her immigration status and socio-economic and medical barriers to transition and make ends meet. She also navigates a troubled love relationship with a cis man and general societal tensions and repressions regarding her trans existence. 


In terms of production, this award-winning film features an authentic cast with transgender actors in trans roles and Latinx performers in Latinx roles. The same happens behind the camera as the production team collaborated with the Trans Filmmakers Project, among other film and LGBTQ+ organizations.

Even though the screenplay was developed and written by Brazilian director Flavio Alves and John Rotondo, two queer cisgender men, they engaged in timely research. 

In the Press Kit, Alves says, “To write the script, we interviewed trans women and men from many different backgrounds. To do the story justice, we met with more than 30 trans-led organizations, with hopes of including their concerns about the fictional story we were building. We needed to do our due diligence by listening to and incorporating the narratives that the trans community themselves provided to us.”

Recommended Vice News Episode



Fornes Jr,Brandon Lee

Macdonald,Merlin S

Group Discussion

After reading together page 77 of David Spade’s essay “Queer and Trans Liberation Requires Abolition,” pick one of these three topics and discuss them with partners tracing how the discussions of these texts could be integrated.

  1. Intersectionality

The directors present Tina as a nuanced, intersectional character. Her life on the screen allows us to think about different interconnected Latinx and queer facets.

Why is projecting an intersectional perspective vital for this film? Bring examples.

(Spade, 76)

  1. The right to pleasure, joy, and love (the garden)

The film purposely dedicates time on screen to showing Tina’s self-care habits, intimacy, and her group of Black and brown trans friends. The film shows how they support each other with daily and medical advice but also as an emergent activist group against police brutality and transphobia.

Why are these scenes foregrounded in the movie? How do they function? What are they trying to convey?

(See 1:00:02)

  1. Black trans activism- against everyday violence and transphobia

The screenwriting team mentioned that they “interviewed several trans women who helped” them to shape Tina’s storyline. They acknowledge that the transgender experience is different for everyone, but they say that nearly every person they interviewed had experienced some sort of violence, including physical, verbal, and emotional. 

Clearly, one of the goals of the movie is to raise awareness of the frequent violence against trans people and some possible tools to combat it.

How are trans-organizing and activism represented in the film?

(See 26:00; 44:25 ) (Spade, 78)

Recommended Podcast Episode

I’m No Longer Here (F. Frías, 2020) + Mexican Deejays (C. Ragland)- Day 2

In Monterrey, Mexico, a young street “gang” spends their days dancing to slowed-down cumbia and attending parties. After a mix-up with a local cartel, their leader, Ulises, is forced to migrate to the U.S. but quickly longs to return home. The director, Frias, captures the surreal (dreamy) sensation of feeling utterly alone despite constantly being around  (Mexican/Latine) people as Ulises struggles to find his way in New York.

Entry Questions

Pick and answer ONE of the following prompts 


I’m No Longer Here suggests that once you migrate, it’s impossible to reproduce your homeland and, more so, to really return to your place of origin. Expand on this idea by referring to the protagonist’s journey, Ulises.


Compare the two major cities and neighborhoods represented in the film: Monterrey and New York. How does Ulises experience poverty and community differently in each of these spaces?


Discuss the importance of costume, hair, and sound design in the mise-en-scene of I’m No Longer Here. Why do you think these particular elements are central to telling the story and presenting the characters’ cultural identity and their Cumbia sub-culture?


Zambrano,Gianni Ariana

Zapata,Kaylen Melanie


Close-reading Discussion:

.New York-area Mexicans remain relatively marginalized, exerting little impact on local sociopolitical structures and leading a relatively precarious economy… most of these young men have been sent by their families to the US to work… despite the difficulty of traveling to their homeland, many of them remain in close touch with their relatives and friends in Mexico (339-340) (See 5:40; 1:02:14)

.Organized social dances are an important way to examine how marginalized immigrant communities can transform the cultural landscape in this country. In the case of New York, Mexican sonidero bailes (deejay dances) are held most weekends in clubs, restaurants, community centers, and bingo halls in Queens (New York). Although young women are present at these events, they are typically outnumbered by young men at a ratio of at least three to one. (340) (See 21:00)

.The sonideros are responsible not only for the music, but also for many other aspects of the event. At times, they are the organizers and promoters of the dances themselves, and they also provide the elaborate and colorful light systems and obligatory smoke machines. The sonidero, who is always male and usually five to ten years older than most of the dancers, is recognized for his voiced “personality” which he manipulates with a myriad of processed tape loops, pre-recorded samples, and sound effects (such as delays, reverb, echoes, and phase-shifters). With his synthetically distorted voice and other effects, he achieves the desired sound: big, loud, and superhuman. (342) (See 48:20)

I’m No Longer Here (Frías, 2020) + Mexican Deejays (C. Ragland)- Day 1

Entry Questions:

Migrants use music in various ways in their new environments: to stay connected to their home culture, resist cultural assimilation, navigate their evolving identities, and strengthen bonds within their ethnic, racial, or class communities.

Is there a musical genre you personally identified with a particular Latinx group in the US?

Metaphorically speaking, how does this music illustrate aspects of the (im)migrant experience?

Can you identify these aspects highlighted in I’m No Longer Here?


Cumbia started as a folk music style in coastal Colombia, blending influences from the region’s diverse population, especially Afro-indigenous groups. It became popular across Colombia in the 1940s and 1950s and then spread to other Spanish-speaking countries in Latin America, notably Mexico. It’s deeply connected to working-class communities, but newer versions are more global yet with outstanding local variants, as in the case of Monterey. By the turn of the millennium, Mexicans had reconfigured cumbia to such an extent that many Mexicans believe cumbia is of Mexican origin.

How are the Mexican characters in I’m No Longer Here “reconfigured” cumbia?


Crisantos,Jennisa J

Fernandez,Sienna Chanelle



Pick one of these quotes by musicologist Cathy Ragland to expand on the cultural movements portrayed in the film.

.In these weekend dances, the deejay, or sonidero as he is known, together with those in attendance, creates a powerful transnational musical and social experience. By manipulating music and simultaneously reconfiguring time and place, they turn feelings of displacement and marginalization into a collective sense of identity and connectedness. (339) (See 7:50)

.In the process, they dramatize and mediate their own experiences of a modem life that oscillates between and encompasses both Mexico and the US. They effectively portray and create a modernity animated by both real and imagined interpretations of history and culture and by their shared experiences of travel, dislocation, and a reinvention of their lives as both Mexicans and Americans. (339) (See 18:00)