Race & Hollywood: Latino Images in Film


Recently Chimatli’s blog “Glassell Park on TV” created an interesting dialogue about what is fake and hilarious to the eastside audiences in film and how others view these ludicrous stereotypes of Latinos as gospel. Yeah, you know who you are, my little eastside.com tourist friends.

So just for you—those that don’t have a clue that there are racist depictions of Latinos in film—AND you, who can afford cable television during La Crisis –tune into Turner Classic Movies (TCM) starting on Cinco de Mayo (Tuesday, May 5 at 8pm) for an enlightening learning experience about your beloved Hollywood. Via television you will receive a condensed version of a Chicano Studies class—but you won’t be tested until you say something dumb like “Everyone in ELA is a gangbanger or drug addict—-I saw that on a TV show!”

UCLA Professor and author of “Shot in America: Television, the State, and the Rise of Chicano Cinema”, Chon Noriega will co-host the Race & Hollywood: Latino Images in Film Festival with the channel’s staple host Robert Osborne. Check out the schedule, movie stills and the cool pop-ups of Chon, J-Lo and Carmen Miranda at TCM

There will be films from el año del caldo, but those will show the meager beginnings of where we Latinos find ourselves in films now and why we filmmakers are on a mission to tell our own stories in our own voices. Hey—whatever did happen to “Taco Truck the Movie”?  Great writing turned formulaic then murdered by the Hollywood studios, no doubt.

On May 12, Salt of the Earth at 1:45am (you should Tevo it—-yea, I know you’ve got Tevo too)—it was one of the films that inspired me to be an activist, a filmmaker and a seeker of justice. On May 26-the return of the midnight movie (in your living room) with Boulevard Nights-–I recommend serving your guest 40s, chips and salsa. I say “40s, chips and salsa” as a kitschy art thing just for very close friends—but maybe on your side of town you should stick to wine and cheese, making this a high-art film night experience. Boulevard Nights, 40s, chips and salsa could make you seem racist to people that don’t know you—sort of like when those UCLA frat boys dress in sombreros, mustaches and panchos as one of their yearly ‘Cinco de Mayo” events a few years ago. Yep—that is pretty racist.

I will be tuning into Chon and Race & Hollywood: Latino Images in Film Festival too, because there are some films that I haven’t seen and some I haven’t seen in a long time.

If you get hardcore about this genre of film, then by all means join me at the 2009 Reel Rasquache Festival of the U.S. Latino Experience in Film & Art at CSULA’s Luckman Fine Arts Gallery on the weekend of May 15 through May 17. This festival will feature more contemporary Latino filmmakers. My film “báwrdÉ™r” will be screened on May 16 at 9pm. Meet me there!

For the complete schedule and festival details of the 2009 Reel Rasquache Festival of the U.S. Latino Experience in Film & Art (to be posted very soon) go to Reel Rasquache

8 thoughts on “Race & Hollywood: Latino Images in Film

  1. Are you joking about the programming times? What a slap in the face. I won’t watch. Screw TCM. I’ll buy a copy of “Salt of the Earth” (used VHS as low as $12 at amazon, which is the route I’ll probably go). I’ve been meaning to, anyway. I’ve never seen it and have heard so much about it. Already own a copy of Boulevard Nights. Not to get hung up on the cholo/pachuco aspect of Mexican-American cinema, but Zoot Suit is one of my favorite movies, period. It should be old enough to meet TCM’s criteria. La Bamba, too. A great picture of life in the San Fernando Valley in the ’50s, while also leading into one of the most iconic tragedies in American pop history, “The Day The Music Died”. It’s too bad Luis Valdez only does plays now. Technically, Zoot Suit is a play, too. But some of the shots in Zoot Suit would be impossible to experience sitting in a theater audience (floor view of a bloodied Henry looking toward the ground while the police are beating him), so I still consider it cinema.

  2. Thank you Victoria, this is an important subject, and the movie “Salt of the Earth” should be de rigeur for anyone interested in not only Chicano history but anyone interested in US History. A history that is especially pertinent and important today given the sad state of affairs vis a vis the working person and issues as fresh and vital as Monopoly Capitalism, workers rights, racism, sexism, union organizing, the plight and unfair wages paid to Mexicanos for doing the same work as native US citizens, all battles still being fought today as was the case in 1954 when Salt of the Earth was produced under the scrutiny, oppression, and the inquisition of the McCarthy era of the Red Scare.
    Salt of the Earth was made almost in secret by actors and movie industry people who were blacklisted as Communists or who had what the fascists of the time referred to as “Un-American sympathies”
    The movie was the only film ever blacklisted and banned in the history of the USA.
    During the filming the great Mexicana actress and activist “Rosaura Revueltos” had her passport taken away and she was deported.
    All this hassle and oppression over a film that depicted the true story of a miners strike in Silver City NM. The strike was by Chicano miners who were protesting the racist two tier wage scale system which was fairly common then and is still practiced, though nowadays in secret.
    Chicano’s and Mexicano’s were paid less money as the white miners for doing the same work.
    That made them Commies in the eyes of Phelps Dodge and Anaconda and Empire and Peabody Mining Co’s and their lackeys in Politics.
    A great and historical movie that is a must see for anyone who is interested in history, ethnic and political, women’s struggles, freedom, democracy, and justice.

  3. You’re in luck Rob! The 2009 Reel Rasquache Festival of the U.S. Latino Experience in Film & Art will have a screening of “Zoot Suit” on Sunday May 17 at 6pm and at the same time a 40-year(!) anniversary showing of “I am Joaquin” from the classic Chicano epic poem. Closer to our ELA home are the May 16 double feature of “Discovering Eloy Torres” at 7pm and (another chance to view) “Chicano Rock! The Sounds of East Los Angeles” the latter film leaving you wanting more, more, more. Especially it makes me want to see a feature film on Cannibal and the Headhunters (from ELA), who were the requested opening act for The Beatles during their first USA tour! There is a Sunday, May 17 matinee (1pm) premiere of “Las Grandes de East LA & Boyle Heights” and “Gronk’s Tormenta”. The full schedule will be posted soon on http://www.reelrasquache.org/ The times and accessibility of the Reel Rasquache Film Festival are more gente friendly.

  4. Great movie, we have a dvd copy of Salt of the Earth for rental at From Beyond Dvd & Video Store.

  5. I saw “Salt of the Earth” about a year ago for the first time. I thought it was very, very good and it was amazing how it touched on so many issues that people didn’t discuss much back then. Very cool. I got it from Netflix, by the way.

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