Kiss Me: A short film about the sexuality and masculinity in East LA’s Latino boxing world

kissme.jpgJules Nurrish, writer and director of the new short film, Kiss Me, wrote an exclusive blog for Cuentame on her important and controversial film that provides a refreshing perspective of what it means to be gay, Latino and a boxer.

Since I was a kid and my dad took me to my first fight in England, I’ve wanted to make a boxing movie. Yes, it’s a controversial sport, we all know the arguments for and against, but the politics of boxing aside, I’ve always been compelled by the ‘nobel art’. When I moved to Los Angeles in 2008 to study film at UCLA, I figured that LA was the perfect place to make a boxing film, and the strength and rich history of Latino boxing in particular made for an ideal background. The story of Kiss Me centers on a Mexican-American fighter, Kid Vargas, who kills his opponent, Jonny, in the ring during a bout.  Tormented by the guilt of killing a man, Kid’s turmoil is intensified by fragmented memories of Jonny taunting him with accusations that Kid is a ‘maricon’. Kid keeps his attraction towards men a secret, not least to keep his wife and young son from finding out.

Sexuality and sexual attraction are fluid things, and when there are so many stereotypes and assumptions about male Latino culture, I hope that this film challenges some of those ideas by providing an alternative view of the way masculinity plays out. Boxing is obviously a testosterone-filled sport. How many openly gay fighters can you name? No, I thought not. Despite a greater acceptance of queerness in contemporary popular culture, that acceptance has not been exactly matched in sport generally, and in boxing in particular. The machismo associated with boxing, and Latino boxing especially is fascinating to me. Hopefully, Kiss Me can find an audience that also finds this dynamic one that is worth exploring.

I shot Kiss Me in Boyle Heights, Downtown LA, South Central, and Bell, CA in September 2011. We had a fantastic cast and crew, so a few props to those folks. Kid is played by New York-based actor, Raul Castillo (who starred in Don’t Let Me Drown and Cold Weather). Sylvia is played by Carolyn Zeller. I was lucky enough to find Javier Lezama to play Jonny, who is both an actor and a trained boxer. The film was cast by LA-based playwright, Richardo Bracho, who did an amazing job finding talented actors to play these characters.

We are currently editing Kiss Me, but filmmaking is expensive, and we need to raise funds to finish the film. That’s where our Kickstarter campaign comes in. We need to raise $5,000 to cover post-production costs, which will mean we can finish the film, and start submitting it to film festivals, and get the film out into the world.

Take a look at the trailer, and if you like it, please consider making a pledge. Every dollar helps, and we have some great rewards. Also, please share and re-post the link as widely as you can!

post production for "Kiss Me"

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  • published this page in Arts 2012-01-18 12:07:40 -0800