Joanna Sokolowski and Kate Trumbull-LaValle
Hot Docs, New Orleans, Seattle, London, Human Rights Watch, Denver, Frameline, Outfest, Milan, Citizen Jane, Ambulante
A profile of several young Latinas who find empowerment as members of an East Los Angeles bicycling group.
Seeking a sense of community and a safe space for women of color within the white male-dominated, privileged bicycling culture of Los Angeles, the Ovarian Psycos were formed. Eschewing the criminal intimations of the term “gang” for the preferred “brigade,” the Ovas defiantly reclaim the streets for their own, organizing rides like Clitoral Mass, while fighting back against sexism, racism, classism, gender violence, and cultural taboos – though the film doesn’t always provide a clear sense of the extent of the group’s reach. Sokolowski and Trumbull-LaValle instead focus on a small handful of riders, including founder Xela de la X, longtime member Andi Xoch, and newcomer Evie, demonstrating how their personal stories reflect larger, political issues, such as the challenges posed by the pull of family, motherhood, and traditionally so-called “feminine” pursuits vs their activist interests. While suggesting the Psycos are the latest in a lineage that stretches back from the riot grrls of the 1990s and the Chicano and feminist movements of the ’60s and ’70s, the film doesn’t go quite far enough in exploring these ties, resulting in a somewhat insular, if still intriguing, treatment.