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‘Mala, Mala:’ The underdogs in a very tough competition!

By LAPACAZO SANDOVAL and ART SHRIAN | 4/24/2014, 3:53 p.m.
Dan Sickles and Antonio Santini Payola Isabel photo

“Mala, Mala” by Dan Sickles and Antonio Santini (produced by Killer Films) is knocking the hard-nosed and fickle critics for a loop!

It’s a fun sneak peek into the lives of the transgendered Puerto Rican community’s fight for equality. It’s one of 12 documentaries in competition at the Tribeca Film Festival, and they are the underdogs in a very hard race.

We caught up with Sickles and Santini, and here is what they had to say about love, filmmaking, equality and God!

AmNews: What’s the plus side of being at this festival?

Sickles and Santini: Antonio and I have been living in New York for over eight years, and “Mala Mala” is the only feature from Puerto Rico at this year’s festival. We’re grateful for the privilege to represent a voice and an island that has been shadowed by its ambiguous political/colonial status for decades.

What’s exciting about LGBT rights and what are the challenges for the future?

It’s an exciting and turbulent time to be involved in the fight for LGBTQ rights. Paradigms are shifting, and policy is beginning to reflect the humanistic, young politics of the time, but the war over “family values” and cultural ethics is still very much being waged.

We’re years away from the dust settling on these fronts, so it’s hard to understand where the battle actually lies. LGBTQ citizens have legal protections in many states, which is a fairly new trend, but one can’t ignore the homo-fascist politics literally killing our LGBTQ brothers and sisters in places like Russia and Uganda.

Humanity is on the cusp of deciding how contemporary society will treat LGBTQ people, and I hope that our children in the future read about this battle for liberation as something that was and not something that is.

How has the Catholic Church—or any other religious groups—reacted to this film?

I’m unaware of any religious groups seeing the film at this point, but I welcome the discussion.

We did spend an entire day filming a pro-family (anti-LGBTQ) rally at the capitol in San Juan [Puerto Rico] in opposition to Bill 238, which passes into law in our film.

Over 100,000 people showed up to protest an employment nondiscrimination bill and spent most of the day shouting about God and the Bible. It’s a shame just how much hatred is out there for LGBT people, and it’s embarrassing to see people use such a loving figure like Jesus in vain.

I can’t imagine the son of God wouldn’t want someone to have a job or to not have the opportunity for a meaningful, joy-filled existence.

I don’t know him personally, but I can’t imagine Jesus disavowing someone for investigating the depths of their personal identity and finding the courage to express it.