La Manplesa premieres July 21 and 22
Film poster courtesy of Ellie Walton.

La Manplesa

Thirty years ago, the police shooting of Daniel Gomez in D.C.’s Mount Pleasant set off a days-long uprising by the local, largely Latinx, community. Ellie Walton, now a director, was there. Walton’s latest film, La Manplesa, premieres this week and focuses on 1991’s unrest and its contemporary resonance with the Black Lives Matter protests, prompted by the killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. “I was 9 years old,” Walton says. “I remember hearing the shot walking up the block from my house. I remember seeing Daniel Gomez being taken away in the ambulance and the pool of blood. But mostly, I remember the feeling on people’s faces. The feeling that was more than just anger or rage or sadness; it was this feeling that enough is enough. It was something that has always stuck with me.” Walton, who has directed a series of documentaries about working class Washingtonians, chose not to make a traditional journalistic overview of the uprising—determining that addressing immigration policy and gentrification in depth was beyond her scope. Instead, she developed La Manplesa—how many Salvadorans refer to Mount Pleasant—with a team of artists and activists who also called Mount Pleasant home in 1991. Her goal was to tell the tale of police brutality, immigration policy, and systemic racism from the perspective of the people who live it. La Manplesa intertwines the voices of determined activists with the current work of artists, including poet/activist Quique Aviles, singer/guitarist Lilo Gonzalez, and poet Sami Miranda. The documentary uses animation and local commentary to retell how the unfilmed shooting transpired: An allegedly inebriated Gomez was shot and wounded by a rookie police officer who didn’t speak Spanish. Walton, unable to get an interview with Gomez or the officer, chose to not name the cop, Angela Jewell. “I don’t identify as a journalist,” says Walton. “I identify as an artist.” The film makes its world premiere on July 21, 7pm, at GALA Hispanic Theatre, 3333 14th St. NW. (Sold out.) A second screening is scheduled for July 22 at the Kennedy Center, 2700 F St. NW. Free.