Institute History

  • 2006 Sundance Film Festival


As Magdelena's fifteenth birthday approaches, her life is consumed by thoughts of her boyfriend, her Quinceañera dress, and the Hummer limo she hopes will show up on her special day. Life seems so simple in her Echo Park neighborhood of Los Angeles, until fate delivers an unwelcome surprise—she is pregnant. Immediately expelled from her religious family home, she is taken in by her great-granduncle Thomas and tough cholo cousin Carlos, who has been rejected by his own father for being gay. Together they form a makeshift family unit that must stand up to social stigmas and encroaching urban gentrification that threatens the only neighborhood they know.

Directing team Wash Westmoreland and Richard Glatzer playfully label Quinceañera a "neo-sink drama," and indeed it is a reinvention of the "kitchen sink" dramas that peppered British cinema in the '50s and '60s. They were known for adult storylines, class conflict, and sardonic humor, but to consider Quinceañera so simply is an injustice. This is an authentically rendered glimpse into a world most likely driven through, with doors locked and windows rolled up, on the way to somewhere else. Westmoreland and Glatzer have molded the performances of their mostly unknown ensemble into a tender portrait of a changing world and, in doing so, have illuminated modern realities of family and hope.

— John Cooper

Screening Details

Sundance Film Festival Awards

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