Windy City Media Group Frontpage News


home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2022-06-08



Latina filmmakers on companies, movie projects
by Carrie Maxwell, Windy City Times

This article shared 4367 times since Wed Mar 28, 2012
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

Linda Garcia Merchant has been making films for the last six years and with her latest productions, Thresholds and The A Word, she covers two controversial topics—teen violence and abortion, respectively.

Her newest production company, Las Pilonas—which she formed a year ago with sisters, Yovani Flores and Evon Flores Barrera—was behind Thresholds. Voces Primeras—her first production company, which was formed in 2006—backed The A Word.

Merchant, Barrera and Flores grew up in the Humboldt Park neighborhood of Chicago and while Flores now resides in Phoenix, Merchant and Barrera still call Chicago home.

Merchant and Flores are both lesbians while Barrera is an ally of the LGBT community.

A member of the Lesbian Leadership Council, Merchant has also written for scholarly journals. She will be attending DePaul University in the fall to work on her Master's of Science in Applied Technology.

Barrera is a writer, poet, actor, performer and artist as well as a member of the La Dulce Palabra spoken-word ensemble. She made her acting debut in Thresholds as Detective Gomez.

Flores won an award for a short story she wrote and Thresholds is also her acting debut where she played Benny's mom, Nancy.

With Las Pilonas, Merchant, Flores and Barrera work within the narrative framework to tell stories they would like to see. "There is this whole narrative that defines a large part of our [Latino/Latina] culture and doesn't get the recognition we feel it should within the industry," said Merchant.

"The film Thresholds is an urban tale about pushing barriers in the moments lived between each breath. Three people—Detective Gomez, Nancy and her son, Benny—are touched by life-changing events that will shatter assumptions encompassing the edge of humanity," said Merchant.

"The story is based on the perception of the viewer. A lot of people get that Benny is a smart, good kid who may have gotten killed for being in the wrong crowd or for being black, gay or a straight ally," said Barrera of the film, adding, "We wrote the story without intention of who Benny was because we wanted to let the viewer to decide for themselves although Benny does represent all of the young people who are dying today." As for the title Merchant said, "it refers to what happens inside and outside the threshold of Benny's house."

The genesis of Thresholds came when Flores started writing the story and realized there could be a film component so she sent Merchant and email and they began working on the project. Over the next few weeks they came up with a script over the phone. Flores came back to Chicago when they were ready to shoot and principal photography was completed during that weekend. The entire process took six weeks to complete.

Evanston Township High School students acted as crew members alongside a few adults in key production roles, including cinematographer Steven Lemieux-Jordan. One student, Brent Brown, played the role of Benny and Jeff Rysiewicz played Detective O'Brien alongside Flores as Nancy and Barrera as Detective Gomez. Merchant, Flores and Barrera gave the students rave reviews for their work ethic and dedication. Merchant said "To have the students see Latina women doing this work was the goal, which we achieved."

As for future projects under the Las Pilonas banner, they are already in pre-production with some of their scripts. They have had to put much of that work on hold since they have been getting requests from organizations that are interested in using Thresholds to address the issue of bullying. They are also still showing the film at Latino/Latina and LGBT film festivals around the country including the Out in the Desert Tuscon LGBT International Film Festival where they won the award for Best Consciousness Raising Short Film.

As for Voces Primeras, Merchant is creating a catalog of documentaries on pioneering Latina women. "The story of women activists and especially Latina activists is absent," she said. "There is a significant community of women that have done incredible work within social justice movements so my goal is to make films about women who have been integral in those movements."

Since Voces Primeras' inception, Merchant has made six documentaries and one feature film. They include Las Mujeras de las Caucas Chicana (a story that included the work her mother did with the National Women's Political Caucus in the 1970s as one of the vice-chairs), Palabras Dulces, Palabras Amargas (which focuses on a group of latina mulit-cultural, multi-generational lesbian or straight-ally performing artists), Amigas! 15 Years of Amigas Latinas (about the organization) and most recently The A Word (marginalized women in the reproductive-justice movement through the Chicago Abortion Fund).

The A Word—also shot by cinematographer Lemieux-Jordan, who been with Merchant throughout all of her films—focuses on the "My Voice My Choice Leadership Group" at the Chicago Abortion Fund. "The women agreed to do this project without hesitation. They are not public speakers by trade but they went on camera to share their stories," said Merchant. "The fight is ramping up and I wouldn't doubt that we will be doing a follow up documentary to reflect the current climate surrounding women's reproductive rights."

Merchant is currently working on a project called Chicana Por Mi Raza: Uncovering the Hidden History of Chiana Feminism (1965-1985) with Dr. Maria Cotera, associate professor of the department of women's studies and program in American culture at the University of Michigan. They are conducting interviews and gathering materials to create a virtual history museum about the work that Chicana's have done with many social-justice movements. The project has won the Scalable Research Challenge 2012 from the Institute for Computing in Humanities, Arts, and Social Science (I-CHASS) at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana, which Merchant said is a huge honor.

Merchant recently spoke at the National Association for Chicana and Chicano Studies conference here in Chicago, where she talked about the project and cultivating scholarship surrounding digital archiving. She participated in two panels; one was on reclaiming history and queer activism in the Midwest where she showed Thresholds, and she was a part of a Chicana plenary where she did a multimedia presentation about her filmmaking journey. (While working on this project, Merchant has thought of three documentary ideas that she plans to explore.)

Of their film and independent filmmaking, Barrera said "Go see our movie whenever it is in your town." Merchant added, "Support independent films because a lot of blood, sweat, tears and hard work goes into these productions without much compensation for the people involved. There are some really good independent films being made by people from a variety of cultures."

Flores added, "Everything we have done surrounding Thresholds has been done without a budget. We have used our own resources for the entire project including the film festivals we have entered over the last year."

See and find it on Facebook. To view the trailer for Thresholds, visit, and to view trailers from Voces Primera, see

This article shared 4367 times since Wed Mar 28, 2012
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email


Gay News

Actor Ezra Miller supposedly housing people at firearm-filled farm
Non-binary actor Ezra Miller is allegedly housing a young mother and her three small children at a Vermont farm, which is allegedly littered with firearms, ammunition and marijuana, according to a Page Six item that cited ...

Gay News

'Hacks,' 'Euphoria' lead LGBTQ+ critics' Dorian TV nominations
-- From a press release - JUNE 22, 2022 - The Society of LGBTQ Entertainment Critics—now composed of 385 professional critics and journalists covering film and television—announced its 14th Dorian TV Awards nominations for the best in all of TV, mainstream to ...

Gay News

TELEVISION 'A League of Their Own' screening July 2 in Rockford
-- From a press release - ROCKFORD, Illinois — June 22, 2022 — Prime Video and the City of Rockford will team up to host a free advance screening of the upcoming Prime Video original series A League of Their Own. The ...

Gay News

Photos of Chicago's Daniel Sotomayor included in new Smithsonian exhibit
The Smithsonian's first gallery dedicated to Latino history and culture has opened its doors to the public at the National Museum of American History, NBC News noted. Billed as a precursor to a national Latino museum ...

Gay News

Chicago Philharmonic launches 2022-23 season
-- From a press release - CHICAGO, IL - (June 20, 2022) Chicago Philharmonic has announced its 2022-23 symphonic season on the heels of a 2021-22 season that ended with the sold-out Chicago Premiere of Marvel Studios' Black Panther in Concert. The ...

Gay News

DANCE Chicago's Joffrey Ballet releasing Pride video filmed in NYC
The Joffrey Ballet and Action Lines—a video-production company founded by Joffrey artists Xavier Nunez and Dylan Gutierrez as well as writer/producer Eric Grant—have unveiled a video filmed at the FDR Four Freedoms State Park (on New ...

Gay News

Gloria Allen screening/gathering to take place June 23
A film screening/community gathering to honor the late trans icon Gloria Allen (also known as Mama Gloria) will take place Thursday, June 23, 6-8 p.m., at the South Side Community Art Center, 3831 S. Michigan Ave. ...

Gay News

Billy Masters
"u don't know my alphabet."—Sexy Lukas Gage (from The White Lotus; Love, Victor; and the rebooted Queer as Folk) tweets his response to criticism that Hollywood shouldn't hire him to play LGBTQIA+ roles. When asked to ...

Gay News

SHOWBIZ 'Lightyear,' celebrity event, LGBT runner, Mariah Carey
Video below - Pixar's latest film Lightyear is hitting theaters, and it has a special moment for gay fans—a same-sex kiss between the character Hawthorne (voiced by Uzo Aduba) and her female partner—that almost didn't happen, Out Magazine note ...

Gay News

Spacey charged with sexual assault; UK hearing set for June 16
British authorities have charged actor Kevin Spacey with four counts of sexual assault and a further offense, Deadline reported. The actor has also been charged with causing a person to "engage in penetrative sexual activity without ...

Gay News

SHOWBIZ Jodie Comer, 'Queer As Folk,' trans film, Tom of Finland photos
Jodie Comer—the Emmy- and BAFTA-winning actress perhaps best known for playing LGBTQ+ assassin Villanelle on BBC America's Killing Eve—will make her Broadway debut next spring in Prima Facie, a new play by Suzie Miller, Deadline noted. ...

Gay News

Rebel Wilson comes out as LGBTQ+ [UPDATE]
It's fitting that, during Pride Month, actress Rebel Wilson has seemingly come out as a member of the LGBTQ+ community. On June 9, Wilson shared an Instagram post beside her new love, with the caption: "I ...

Gay News

WTTW celebrates LGBTQ+ Pride Month with special content
WTTW recently released its schedule of special programming in celebration of LGBTQ Pride Month. Highlights include: True Colors: LGBTQ+ Our Stories, Our Songs (NEW) Wed., June 8 at 9:30 pm Offering a unique look at the ...

Gay News

2022 MTV Movie & TV Awards & Movie & TV Awards unveiled
-- From a press release - New York, New York: (June 5, 2022) - The 2022 MTV Movie & TV Awards, hosted by Vanessa Hudgens, honored the biggest and brightest stars in movies and television with an epic, one-night only global event ...

Gay News

Billy Masters
"My mother says that she will not sleep with anybody over the age of 25."—Rocco Ritchie talking about Madonna. This tidbit came courtesy of Dame Joan Collins—who prefaced the quote by saying "We were with her ...


Copyright © 2022 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.






About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Advanced Search     
Windy City Queercast      Queercast Archives     
Press  Releases      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast      Blogs     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam     
Privacy Policy     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.