The new Venezuelan film “Pelo Malo,” meaning “bad hair” in Spanish, is brining Latin American racial issues to the screen.
It discusses Afro-Latino dilemmas, hopefully allowing people from Venezuela and all different Latin communities to relate.
The movie stars 9-year-old Junior, played by Samuel Lange Zambrano, who has crazy, uncontrollable hair due to his European, indigenous, and African background, just like many Venezuelans.
His hair is curly and thick, making it hard to manage on most days.
Junior continuously straightens his hair, hoping to fit in to what, he believes, is normal and beautiful.
“Pelo Malo” looks deeper into the identity of Latin Americans and the use of racism and stereotype amongst most Latinos, touching on a racial, taboo subject which ironically happens very regularly.
“The origin of the term is very offensive. It’s very racist. But it’s also true that in Venezuela, we are so mixed, that in every single family there is someone with … ‘bad hair.’ We joke that the second most profitable industry, after oil, is hair straightening. Because everyone here wants to have straight hair,” said director Mariana Rondon.
It also touches on the subject of sexual orientation when, after Junior stresses about having more relaxed hair, his mother, asks his pediatrician if he is gay because he brushes his hair, sings and is worried about, what is traditionally, a women’s issue.
“Pelo Malo” is now playing in select theaters.
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