As a product of the U.S.-Mexico border, Cristina Ibarra and Erin Ploss-Campoamor's film work is very close to my heart since it speaks to the internal and external boundaries that both define and separate us (it's a very fine line between the two). Their new documentary Las Marthas makes its broadcast debut on PBS tonight, just in time for Presidents' Day.
The scheduling was very intentional as the documentary focuses on a 116-year-old annual tradition held by Laredo, Texas: the Society of Martha Washington Colonial Pageant & Ball.
The city's month of activities celebrating George Washington comes with an unexpected border-transcending twist: most of the events are bicultural, binational and bilingual, given Laredo's proximity to the U.S.-Mexico border. Las Marthas focuses on the young ladies - who come from both sides of the international boundary line - who are in the spotlight at the debutante ball.
There's more than just physical weight to their jaw-dropping gowns and pinned-up do's. These girls are also hauling a legacy of personal identity, nationalism, class warfare, human rights, and generational expectations, all carried out over a geopolitical border that means everything and nothing at the same time. Read my discussion with filmmakers on the Filmmaker Magazine website.
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