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Las Marthas
A film by Cristina Ibarra, Produced by Erin Ploss-Campoamor
US, 2013, 69 minutes, Color, DVD, English/Spanish, Subtitled
Order No. W141127
Unlike any other, the annual debutante ball in Laredo, Texas is part of a lucrative month-long festival honoring George Washington’s birthday. LAS MARTHAS follows two young women as they prepare for this elaborate rite of passage: Laurita, a 13th-generation debutante descended from Laredo’s original Spanish land grantees who questions debutante society’s class system geared toward girls like herself; and Rosario, a high-achieving, Mexican-raised and U.S.-schooled outsider struggling to understand the elite society’s unspoken rules.

Tracing the event’s origins back to 1898, the film works to unravel why a town like Laredo – with a population that is 98% Mexican – feels such affinity for America’s Founding Father. Despite history and all odds, the celebration perseveres and flourishes thanks to the Mexican American girls who wear this gilded tradition in the form of elaborate colonial gowns. LAS MARTHAS is a beautifully drawn and sometimes humorous, coming of age portrait of these two young women as they navigate this complex tradition in a time of economic uncertainty and political tension over immigration and border relations between the US and Mexico.

Bonus! Includes 52 minute television broadcast version.


Best US Latino Film of the Year, Cinema Tropical

  • Ambulante California
  • San Diego Latino Film Festival
  • CineFestival San Antonio

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    "Offers a striking alternative portrait of border-town life."
    The New York Times

    "A fascinating look at a world barely known outside of Texas.."
    Laredo Sun

    "(A) skillful and mindful exploration of the complexities to find a fascinating coming of age story culturally steeped in history. Ibarra has intuitively seized on and explored this unique legacy, which clearly demonstrates the vibrant bi-culture of Texas."

    "Las Marthas is so expertly told that by the end of the movie you’re at the edge of your seat."
    The Current

    "Lovingly put together… You'll be enthralled."
    The Examiner

    "Just beneath the surface, this massive event is one that captures the contradictions of tradition, duty, class and nationality. As a film, Las Marthas illustrates how an economically fluid reality, defined by new money sometimes from just over the border … pushes up against a significant—though often imagined—elite past."

    “***1/2 Offering an entertaining and respectful look at an offbeat, rarely-seen facet of Americana, this is highly recommended.”
    Library Journal

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    Las Marthas is included in the following Special Collections.
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WMM offers film collections on a variety of specific subject areas, including the collections VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN: Ending the Silence, BODY IMAGE, and AFRICAN-AMERICAN: Celebrate the Lives of African-American Women.

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Women Make Movies is a multicultural, multiracial, non-profit media arts organization which facilitiates the production, promotion, distribution, and exhibition of independent films and videotapes by and about women. contact us