Films by this Filmmaker in the Tri-College Library Collection

CORPUS: A Home Movie for Selena

Country of Origin:
Running Time: 49 min

In CORPUS: A Home Movie for Selena, Lourdes Portillo explores the rising career, untimely death and lasting legacy of Tejana-Pop crossover sensation, Selena Quintanilla. Through interviews with family members, interactions with fans, a facilitated discussion among Latina intellectuals and home-video, Portillo creates a tapestry of Selena, the Latina and Selena, the phenomenon. There are incredibly touching scenes of never-before-seen home video of the iconic Quintanilla family as well as insightful, if not devastating interviews with Selena’s father and big sister. The heart of this documentary, though, is the collection of moments with fans Portillo captures across Selena’s hometown of Corpus Christi, Texas. Notable highlights include a moment with a devoted older Latina fan who comes to clean Selena’s tombstone every morning, a moment where aspiring young Latina girls express their connection to the late superstar through performances, and a controversial scene depicting a drag queen performing as Selena.

The piece was created for a PBS docuseries called POV in 1999 and from its release, created plenty of criticism from the Quintanilla family, but was generally well-received by the Chicano community as a work that captured what Selena meant to an often overlooked community. The piece also features excerpts from a discussion of leading Latina “intellectuals” including acclaimed author, Sandra Cisneros, who notably (and controversially) criticizes the broader message that Selena sends to young Chicanas. Though the piece has its faults, it excels at starting a conversation around Selena, who, 25 years after her death, remains a giant in Chicanx culture and does so with a uniquely Brown and uniquely feminist lens.


For more on Selena’s legacy in the Chicanx community, read Deborah Paredez’s Selenidad: Selena Latinos and the Performance of Memory

(Jonathan Galvan ’21)

Señorita Extraviada (Lourdes Portillo, 2001)

Country of Origin:
Running Time: 74 min

Lourdes Portillo is known for her documentary work on Latin America, particularly on the experiences of Latin American women. Her 1986 documentary (co-directed by Susana Blaustein Muñoz) Las Madres de la Plaza de Mayo was nominated for an Oscar. In 2001 she released Señorita Extraviada, a haunting film investigating the ongoing serial murders of young women in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico.

Since 1993, over 300 young women have been killed in the border town of Juarez, and their murders remain unsolved. With this documentary, Portillo traces the history of these crimes, and the many developments and criticisms surrounding the thus far failed investigation. She speaks with the family members of many of the disappeared young women, as well as government officials involved. Throughout the film, Portillo shows the faces and names of many of these disappeared women; they are students, workers, and mothers, and they have all been brutally murdered.

No one knows for sure who the killers are, but there are layers of government and corporate complicity apparent in Portillo’s documentary. Juarez is a town filled with maquiladoras, which are manufacturing plants owned by foreign companies. These plants tend to employ young women, and many of the Juarez victims featured in this film disappeared from their jobs at the maquiladoras. Because these companies bring large amounts of jobs and revenue to Mexico, they often go unregulated, and many of Portillo’s subjects worry that the crime wave will continue unchecked. Moreover, as a border town, Juarez is a locus of drug trafficking, which is a further source of violence.

Since the release of Señorita Extraviada in 2001, the murders have sadly continued. The suggested reading below includes recent new coverage of the situation as well as work more directly concerning the filmmaker.

Watch the film on POV until May 31, 2011.

Further reading:

Rodriguez, Teresa. 2007. Daughters of Juárez. New York: Atria Books.

Washington Valdez, Diana. 2006. The Killing Fields. Los Angeles: Peace at the Border.

Michelle J. Martinez. “Cinema Chicana: An Interview with Lourdes Portillo.” Journal of Film and Video 62.1 (2010): 23-30. Project MUSE. Web.

Señorita Extraviada web site.

Caitlin Adams 4/24/11