Ellis School Discovers Bordertown Ball With Doc ‘Las Marthas’


Among its many goals, the PBS documentary series Independent Lens seeks to feature films that find untold stories in unexpected places. On Feb. 26th, the Ellis School will screen one such selection, the Independent Lens produced Las Marthas, which provides viewers with an intimate behind-the-scenes look at a lavish Texas tradition.

Directors Christina Ibarra and Erin Ploss-Campoamor capture an annual debutante ball in Laredo, Texas that is 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 chosen each year to dress in elaborate gowns representing iconic figures from America’s colonial history. Their goal: to recreate a party hosted by Martha Washington, but this time set along the US/Mexico border. A year in the making, each girls’ dress can weigh 100 lbs and cost up to $30,000 – nearly the median family income of Laredo. Las Marthas follows two of the girls – Laurita Garza Hovel and Rosario Reyes — as they prepare for this extraordinary rite of passage.

The Community Cinema screening is part of a collaboration by Ellis and The Girls Coalition of Southwestern Pennsylvania to provide year-round Day of the Girl programming that encourages dialogue about equity and social issues for girls and women. The event begins at 6 p.m. A panel discussion will follow the screening. Admission is free. Guests must reserve their seats at Eventbrite.

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