Cristina Ibarra’s “Las Marthas” Documents a Colonial Debutante Ball in Laredo, TX

A debutante emerges in Las Marthas (photo by Craig Marsden)

A debutante emerges in “Las Marthas” (photo by Craig Marsden)

Cristina Ibarra (2005 Film/Video) premieres her Creative Capital-supported documentary, Las Marthas, in San Antonio’s CineFestival with a screening at Guadalupe Theater on Tuesday, February 25 at 9:00pm. The film is the winner of the festival’s Special Jury Award. Las Marthas had its broadcast premiere on PBS’s Independent Lens on February 17 and is available to stream online through PBS Video until March 19. Other upcoming festival screenings include San Diego Latino Film Festival, Chicago Latino Film Festival and Ambulante California.

VIDEO: Preview of “Las Marthas”

Las Marthas documents the annual debutante ball in Laredo, Texas—a spectacle 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 at a lavish Colonial Ball. 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, Rosario and Laurita, as they prepare for this extraordinary rite of passage. A year in the making, each girl’s dress can weigh up to 100 lbs and cost up to $30,000—nearly the median family income of Laredo. Las Marthas unravels the origins of the celebration and shows why, in a town like Laredo, Washington’s Birthday Celebration has managed to persevere and even flourish thanks to the Mexican-American girls who wear the gilded burden of tradition.

In this excerpt from the film, debutantes Laurita and Rosario discuss their different paths to the Martha Washington Ball—Laurita’s family goes way back with the Society of Martha Washington, while Rosario is a newcomer from across the border—as they participate in the fall rehearsal, a few months before the big event.

Watch the film through PBS Video (available through March 19, 2014)


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This entry was posted in NEWS & STORIES, VIDEOS and tagged , , by Jenny Gill. Bookmark the permalink.
Jenny Gill

About Jenny Gill

Jenny Gill is Director of Communications at Creative Capital and editor of The Lab. Prior to joining Creative Capital in 2010, she produced educational programs and digital content for the American Craft Council. She has worked at numerous commercial and nonprofit galleries, including as Gallery Director at the University of the South (Sewanee, TN), Gallery Manager at Joan B. Mirviss Ltd. (New York) and Assistant Curator at Vanderbilt University’s Fine Arts Gallery (Nashville, TN). She also worked as a letterpress designer/printer at the historic Hatch Show Print, studied at the International Workshop for Ceramic Art in Tokoname, Japan, and was an artist assistant for Nashville sculptor Alan LeQuire. Jenny holds a BA in art and art history from Vanderbilt University, where she was awarded the Hamblet Award for studio art, and an MA from Bard Graduate Center for Decorative Arts, Design and Culture.

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