“Leche” is a story that came to me via an odd article that popped up in my Facebook newsfeed. A young hunter had shot an albino deer and a former high school classmate had captioned the article “Catch of a lifetime.” I was deeply saddened and a bit outraged by his response to the kill. Only later did I also learn that albino deer are not always protected under law from being hunted, but my first thoughts on the matter was what if that deer meant something to somebody. I thought about who would feel like that deer and the obvious connection to me would be an outsider like a young ethnic albino girl. To be albino is to stick out already physically, but to be a black or latino albino can mean feeling an outsider within a minority group.
The idea of whiteness meaning privilege is something being a young Latina I’ve experienced. It’s often through ignorance and youth that one wants to blend in. I attended predominantly white catholic schools until college. Diversity was lost on me. At a young age, you realize what sets you apart as you try to understand human connection and image how people perceive you and you perceive others. I think it’s interesting that being an ethnic albino might mean you feel like you don’t belong in any skin. I wanted to explore that notion along with the idea of the hunt and how at a certain age girl on girl bullying can feel like being prey.
The whole film visually will be about playing with dark colors and whiteness through the imagery of things such as : communion dresses, snow and milk versus dirt, paint and blood. Imagery where Framing where Nina is on one side of the frame will help get across the isolation. I want wides that are expansive and intimate CU’s. I want the film to feel raw through the use of handheld. I’ve begun writing drafts of a short version of the concept and started searching for young albino actresses of color who might fit the role of Nina. This is a dramatic tale that I think can speak to young girls of color about isolation, the power of strength and the beauty within. I hope audiences will be exposed to the animalistic tendencies of humans even especially when they’re children. I want to create a beautiful rich story with stunning images that speak to adversity. I see the film on screen in my sleep and feel like it’s a story I have to tell. I’ve always been drawn to stories about youth and outsiders and this combines the two perfectly whilst drawing in on the tensions of race and skin color in the latino community. Being Dominican, I’ve often had people tell me that I’m black, but it’s clear that most Dominicans don’t see themselves as black or white or Taino. We are a melting pot and skin color shouldn’t define a race and certainly doesn’t as far as Latinos go. I want to explore this through the lens of a community of darker Dominicans and a girl who can’t find comfort amongst her own. I want to speak to the cruelty that can be found amidst children and the ignorance in innocence or the lack there of sometimes with kids. I want to do tell this story within a latino community setting to give screen time to the underrepresented and to tell a story that can be felt by outsiders of all ethnic backgrounds, but with details that speak to my culture and experiences as a woman.
Eight year old albino, Nina Guzman, nicknamed Leche, finds herself ostracized from other Dominican kids in the small Pennsylvania community where she lives because of her alien complexion and rare golden locks. Her single mother tells her she should feel blessed to be “white” and that when her mother was a child she bathed in milk hoping one day to have skin like Nina’s. Nina’s obsession with whiteness only heightens when visiting hunters illegallyshoot a rare albino deer in the woods near her school. She becomes obsessed with the idea of the murdered deer whilst unknowingly becoming the prey of a female classmate, Gloria, who becomes jealous of the attention Nina receives from those close to Gloria. Nina then finds herself the center of a cruel and dangerous prank.
Submitting to 2015/2016 Film Festival Circuit and eventually releasing online for public viewing