I Am the Queen

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Josue Pellot may be best known for his neon signs in Humboldt Park that might look like beer ads at first glance, but actually depict the bloody conflict between Conquistadores and native Tainu in Puerto Rico.

Pellot was born in Puerto Rico and grew up in Humboldt Park. He first collaborated with Brazil-born multimedia artist Henrique Cirne-Lima on a six-minute video documentary about Division Street domino players in the West Side neighborhood.

Then he ran across a flyer for the Cacique Pageant, a transgender beauty contest put on each May by Vida/SIDA, the HIV-awareness and sex education program of the Puerto Rican Cultural Center. Pellot and Cirne-Lima decided to embark on a documentary about the pageant, the second in what they plan as a series of video portraits of the community.

Their film, I Am the Queen, explores the unique social position of male-to-female transgender Puerto Ricans, focusing on three contestants preparing for Cacique.

I Am the Queen screens in the Chicago Latino Film Festival, Friday 4/1 and Thursday 4/14 at 8 p.m. at Instituto Cervantes, 31 W. Ohio St. It's preceded by Julio O Ramos's short A Doctor's Job, about a doctor working as a cab driver in Lima, Peru.

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