By Allie Waxman
15: A Quinceañera Story Premiere Celebrated Heritage and Family
The New York premiere of 15: A Quinceañera Story encapsulated the festive spirit of the milestone event by showcasing the stories of five young women preparing to embrace the adult world. The celebration of a girl’s 15th birthday is a mainstay in Latin culture, and for the five young women profiled, their participation in the documentary gave them the opportunity to share their unique stories while embracing their culture, and overcoming challenges.
The premiere event included music by DJ Jasmine Solano who encouraged guests to dance as they enjoyed small bites and festive cocktails. Elaborate quinceañera gowns designed by Mexican fashion designer Mitzy were on display, as were vignettes depicting the four quinceañera stories featured in the documentaries.
The five film subjects spoke eagerly about their experiences.
For Zoey, a young trans woman, the most special part of her quinceañera was dancing with her ACLU attorney-turned “honorary dad,” James. “I never thought I’d be able to have a father-daughter dance,” she said. “It was so rewarding because I was able to transition and have a father-figure in my life.”
Rosi, who held her quinceañera in Cuba, discovered a new passion while preparing for her big day. “I went to Cuba not being able to dance, but I picked up all my choreography in a month,” she marvelled. “I discovered that dancing was one of my passions and something I wanted to pursue.”
A talented boxer and community advocate, Ashley believes quinceañeras have the power to bring people together. “Although there’s struggle, we all come together to cherish the moment and support one another,” she observed.
Best friends Nina and Jackie, who prefer to share the spotlight, held their quinceañera together. The pair emphasized the importance of honoring their Mexican heritage with a traditional horse dancing display called escaramuza. “We ride horses and we’re riders,” explained Nina. “We wanted to bring that into our quinceañera.”
On the red carpet, the film’s executive producer Tommy Mottola noted a quinceañera is “an empowerment for Latinas because it’s a rite of passage; it’s the most important day in their lives and their families’ lives.” His wife, Thalia, who co-directed and produced the doc, emphasized the significance of the tradition. “It’s that moment when a baby girl turns into a woman and it’s important for our families to share it with the rest of society,” she said. The pop superstar encouraged all audiences to watch the documentaries and “embrace a message of love, empowerment and unity.”
Praising their “tenacity, their fierceness, the way in which they engage the world,” co-director Matthew O’Neill knew the right group of young women were included in the piece. Commented O’Neill, “If these young women are a part of the future of America, we’re in a great place.”
Following the screening of Zoey and Rosi’s stories, the five girls appeared on stage wearing Mitzy gowns to present their 15 dreams for the next 15 years.