AP

‘La Llorona’ movie promotion with Mexican healers draws fire

Apr 19, 2019, 4:38 PM | Updated: 4:38 pm
A cut from the movie "La Llorona" (Warner Bros.)...
A cut from the movie "La Llorona" (Warner Bros.)
(Warner Bros.)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A promotion around the movie “The Curse of La Llorona” using traditional Mexican healers for “spiritual cleansings” before screenings of the horror film is drawing strong criticism from healers and scholars who say the stunts are offensive and demeaning.

Leading up to the Friday release of the movie based on a Mexican folktale, Warner Bros. invited healers known as curanderos to give audiences cleanings called “limpias.” The studio also dispatched Cuban-born, Los Angeles-based healer Salvador Gata to “bless” an audience before the March 15 premiere at SXSW at The Paramount Theatre in Austin, Texas.

In addition, photos posted on social media show images of supposed healers providing ceremonial cleansings in front of posters of “The Curse of La Llorona,” then celebrating as if attending a party.

“I’m working on the movie La Llorona and am looking for a curandero to do limpias before my movie screenings,” publicist Nahir Wold wrote San Diego-based curandera Grace Sesma in an email. “Let me know if this is something you would be interested in doing!”

Sesma said she ignored the invite until she started seeing photos of purported limpias at screenings online. That angered her and she posted the email on her Facebook page.

“I found it quite shameful,” Sesma said. “It heightens the fear factor around a traditional practice and commodifies and exploits our culture just to get people to see their movie.”

But Miguel Franco, a curandero based in Los Angeles, said Warner Bros. wasn’t looking for stereotypes when the studio invited him several times at various events for the movie.

“Working at press junkets, offering my services to people from all walks of life, including several well-known people, influencers, and media has allowed me to share my gift with people who normally would not have sought me out,” Franco said. He called the experience “overwhelmingly positive.”

Wold did not immediately return emails and phone messages left by The Associated Press.

Tonita Gonzales, an internationally known curandera based in Albuquerque, called the promotion an “outrage and an appropriation” of Mexican American culture.

“The limpia is a cleansing that helps people see the holy that’s within them,” Gonzales said. “To us this to promote a movie, especially during (Easter Weekend), is disturbing.”

A limpia is something performed for those suffering from trauma like sexual abuse, Sesma said. “It’s not supposed to protect you from being scared at the movies.”

University of New Mexico professor Eliseo “Cheo” Torres, who hosts an annual conference in Albuquerque on curanderismo, said the tale of La Llorona has nothing to do with curanderos, even if there are curanderos in the film. “I don’t see the connection and this probably will be offensive to those practicing traditional healing,” Torres said. “Whoever put this promotion together likely has no idea what they are doing.”

Andrew Chesnut, the Bishop Walter F. Sullivan Chair in Catholic Studies at Virginia Commonwealth University and a scholar who has studied spiritual practices in Mexico, called the movie promotion “reprehensible” and harmful.

“It will only serve to further stigmatize curanderismo as something to be feared,” Chesnut said. “That’s dangerous, especially because of the climate that Mexican immigrants face right now.”

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

Today’s Top Stories

AP

Microsoft is cutting 10,000 workers, almost 5% of its workforce, in response to "macroeconomic cond...
MATT O'BRIEN, Associated Press

Job cuts in tech sector spread, Microsoft lays off 10,000

Microsoft said in a regulatory filing Wednesday that had just notified employees of the layoffs, some of which begin immediately.
12 days ago
exxon mobil sign pictured...
SETH BORENSTEIN and CATHY BUSSEWITZ Associated Press

Study: Exxon Mobil accurately predicted warming since 1970s

Exxon said its understanding of climate change evolved over the years and that critics are misunderstanding its earlier research.
18 days ago
FILE - Protesters, supporters of Brazil's former President Jair Bolsonaro, stand on the roof of the...
The Associated Press

Brazil and Jan. 6 in US: Parallel attacks, but not identical

RIO DE JANIERO, Brazil — Enraged protesters broke into government buildings that are the very symbol of their country’s democracy. Driven by conspiracy theories about their candidate’s loss in the last election, they smashed windows, sifted through the desks of lawmakers and trashed the highest offices in the land in a rampage that lasted hours […]
20 days ago
President Joe Biden pictured...
ZEKE MILLER AP White House Correspondent

DOJ reviewing potentially classified docs at Biden center

Special counsel to the president Richard Sauber said “a small number of documents with classified markings” were discovered at the offices of the Penn Biden Center.
21 days ago
LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 06: A poster advertising the launch of Prince Harry's memoir "Spare" is s...
Jill Lawless Associated Press

Prince Harry says explosive book is a bid to ‘own my story’

Prince Harry defended his decision to publish a memoir that lays bare rifts inside Britain’s royal family.
21 days ago
utah capitol, a new bill heading to lawmakers will affect the utah sex offender registry...
HANNAH SCHOENBAUM Associated Press/Report for America

States target transgender health care in first bills of 2023

After a record flow of anti-transgender legislation last year, Republican state lawmakers this year are zeroing in on questions of bodily autonomy.
23 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Banner with Cervical Cancer Awareness Realistic Ribbon...
Intermountain Health

Five Common Causes of Cervical Cancer – and What You Can Do to Lower Your Risk

January is National Cervical Cancer Awareness month and cancer experts at Intermountain Health are working to educate women about cervical cancer, the tests that can warn women about potential cancer, and the importance of vaccination.
Kid holding a cisco fish at winterfest...
Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Get Ready for Fun at the 2023 Bear Lake Monster Winterfest

The Bear Lake Monster Winterfest is an annual weekend event jam-packed full of fun activities the whole family can enjoy. This year the event will be held from January 27-29 at the Utah Bear Lake State Park Marina and Sunrise Resort and Event Center in Garden City, Utah. 
happy friends with sparklers at christmas dinner...
Macey's

15 Easy Christmas Dinner Ideas

We’ve scoured the web for you and narrowed down a few of our favorite Christmas dinner ideas to make your planning easy. Choose from the dishes we’ve highlighted to plan your meal or start brainstorming your own meal plan a couple of weeks before to make sure you have time to shop and prepare.
Spicy Homemade Loaded Taters Tots...
Macey's

5 Game Day Snacks for the Whole Family (with recipes!)

Try these game day snacks to make watching football at home with your family feel like a special occasion. 
Happy joyful smiling casual satisfied woman learning and communicates in sign language online using...
Sorenson

The Best Tools for Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Workplace Success

Here are some of the best resources to make your workplace work better for Deaf and hard-of-hearing employees.
Team supporters celebrating at a tailgate party...
Macey's

8 Delicious Tailgate Foods That Require Zero Prep Work

In a hurry? These 8 tailgate foods take zero prep work, so you can fuel up and get back to what matters most: getting hyped for your favorite
‘La Llorona’ movie promotion with Mexican healers draws fire