Friday Night Film Series Sparks Conversation on Domestic Violence

A touching scene from the movie written by Adelina Anthony.

A touching scene from the movie written by Adelina Anthony.

Golden Auditorium was packed Friday, February 10 for the latest installment of Colgate’s Friday Night Film Series. The featured film was “Bruising for Besos,” a moving piece about queer relationships, domestic violence and family. Professor Cristina Serna of the Women’s Studies Department introduced the film, noting that Colgate’s screening of it marked its East Coast premiere on the college circuit. She added that the film was first introduced as a play, and that it was a story at its core about ancestral trauma and healing. 

Introducing Adelina Anthony as the writer, producer, director and main actress of the film, Serna also added that Anthony has worked at a feminist theater for over 20 years, both acting and directing. In the last five years, Anthony has turned to film, with “Bruising for Besos” being her first full length feature film. The film follows Yoli, played by Anthony, as she tries to makes sense of her new relationship as well as the traumatic past of her father’s relationship with her mother. 

Anthony noted in the question and answer session following the screening that the film itself was not an autobiography of her life, but that it was a very personal story. Anthony identifies as a Xicana lesbian, as does her character Yoli in the film, and she has also experienced domestic violence. In the film, we see Yoli’s past through intense flashbacks acted out by the puppets she makes, in which her dad is often being extremely abusive to her mother as well as her and her siblings. She begins a new relationship with a woman named Daña which ultimately turns violent and destructive as well. Anthony relates to the character in this way, as she grew up as a child with domestic violence in her household and then experienced intimate partner violence in her 20s in a same-sex relationship.

“I loved the movie, I thought it was super unique and that the director was so incredibly brave to talk about such difficult issues,” sophomore Maggie Dunn said. “Especially because the issues were so personal

to her.”

One of the biggest takeaways from the screening and from Anthony’s discussion was that the topic of domestic violence in queer relationships is surrounded by a lot of silence. Anthony brought up the idea that in queer relationships, people are often fighting so hard to own their relationships that the last thing they want to do is admit to their friends and their family that they are struggling with them in any way. 

“I thoroughly enjoyed the film, and loved the fact that it brought up issues that I’ve never heard anyone talk about,” sophomore Talia Greenblatt said. “I think the real tragedy in the film is that because Yoli had difficulty facing her family’s history of domestic violence, she ends up recreating her past in her adult relationships.”

Ending on a hopeful note, however, Anthony offered the chance for her character Yoli to properly deal with her traumatic past within her family so as not to bring those issues into her new relationships by announcing that she would begin filming “Bruising for Besos 2” next month. In the sequel, Yoli goes home to finally work things out with her mother and her siblings. The film ended with a dedication to all survivors of violence within and outside the home, and to the victims of the 2016 Orlando nightclub shooting.