Pelo De Gusano (DVD Review)11 May, 2008 By: Ruby Cardenas
Pelo De Gusano (Worm Head), narrated in Spanish with Spanish subtitles (a translation from an earlier English-language DVD), is a touching story that teaches children to accept others as they are.
Jessie Brown is excited about her first day of 2nd grade at Harriet Tubman Elementary School because she will reunite with her good friends, Terry and Ana. Jessie, Terry and Ana have been friends since kindergarten, so a new student at school is a big deal.
Jessie is assigned to sit next to Nia Barnes, the new girl in class. She is quick to extend a friendly smile and an introduction. She notices that Nia's hair is different — not curly or braided like her and her friends, but twisted in rolls somehow. She invites Nia to play at recess, but after a brief introduction, Terry and Ana just blankly stare at Nia and are not shy to show their disapproval of Jessie's new, different friend. The two girls refer to Nia as “worm head” and Jessie is faced with the decision to play with her friends or with her new friend. At home, she questions her father about why people use nicknames to make fun of people and he explains that sometimes people don't want to take the time to get to know people.
Nia becomes tired of the treatment she has been continually receiving because of her dreadlocks and takes a minute to teach Terry, Ana and their classmates a lesson about acceptance. Nia and Jessie's father verbally teach the lesson, but Jessie actively demonstrates it. Rich McKeown pays tribute to his late wife, Carolyn McKeown, author of the story, with his fun musical contributions and production of the short film itself.
The charming story took Best Animation at the Texas Black Film Festival and was an Official Selection at the 2006 African Diaspora Film Festival, 2007 All American Film Festival, 2007 San Francisco Black Film Festival and 2007 Independent Black Film Festival.