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Project: Las Marthas

Las Marthas is a feature-length documentary revealing the Tex-Mex coming-of-age ritual of Society daughters. The annual debutante ball in Laredo, TX is unlike any other. Part of the largest celebration of George Washington’s birthday in the world, a select group of mostly Mexican American girls is presented dressed in lavish Colonial ball gowns. Their goal: to recreate a party hosted by Martha Washington, but this time set along the U.S./Mexico border. Las Marthas follows two of the girls as they prepare for this extraordinary rite of passage. Each girl's legacy exposes a dressed up history, unfolding the layers of meaning of an invented tradition that is as constructed as the Mexican American border and a hoop skirt.

Awardee: Cristina Ibarra

Moving Image, 2005

Cristina Ibarra is a Chicana filmmaker who has been making award-winning independent films that explore the U.S.-Mexico border for the past fourteen years. To Ibarra the border is not only a subject—it is home. She was raised in El Paso, Texas, and Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. Her critically acclaimed long-form PBS documentary The Last Conquistador had a national broadcast on POV, and USA Today called the film “Heroic,” Sculptural Pursuit Magazine, “Powerful.” Her short narrative film Dirty Laundry: A Homemade Telenovela won multiple awards at festivals, including Best Short Fiction, the Audience Award, and the Jury Award, and was broadcast nationwide on PBS. Ibarra directed the narrative short Wheels of Change for the New York International Latino Film Festival to play before every feature film screening. Latino Public Broadcasting funded her comedic interstitial Grandma’s Hip Hop. She is a founding member of fulana.org, a Latina interdisciplinary collective, where she created award-winning satirical shorts such as Latino Plastic Cover and Lupe From the Block. She is the recipient of numerous fellowships from the Rockefeller Foundation, the New York Foundation for the Arts, CPB/PBS Producer’s Academy, the Latino Producers Academy and Creative Capital, among others. 

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