© Cinevest Entertainment Group
This independent feature film, produced during what has come to be known as the “Hispanic Decade,” dramatizes the true story of Pedro J. González, the first Spanish-language radio host and recording star of 1930s Los Angeles, who was framed by the District Attorney’s office and sent to San Quentin. Starring Oscar Chávez, María Rojo, Tony Plana, and Pepe Serna. The film was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival in 1988.
A former telegraph operator for Pancho Villa, Gonzales comes with his wife to the United States to escape the political turmoil and economic hardships of life in Mexico. He manages to launch his own radio program in Los Angeles, "Los Madrugadores." It is not long before the corrupt district attorney, in his bid for re-election, buys airtime on Gonzalez show. The Spanish advertisements, read by the now-famous Gonzalez, turn out to be instrumental in mobilizing the Hispanic vote and ensuring the re-election of the district attorney. However, as the depression deepens, the Latino community becomes an easy scapegoat for the local right wing. Over half a million Latino workers, whose presence had been crucial in building the Californian economy, are deported. Gonzalez begins attending rallies and he uses his radio show to protest the treatment of Latinos. Suddenly, he is viewed as a threat by the establishment, which decides to silence him.
Directed by Isaac Artenstein • 1988, USA
105 minutes • 35mm
In Spanish and English with English subtitles
Isaac Artenstein (Producer/Director), directed the award-winning Ballad of an Unsung Hero featuring Pedro J. Gonzalez, telegraph operator to Pancho Villa and radio pioneer in the US which aired nationally on PBS and served as the basis for his feature film Break of Dawn released theatrically and broadcast on PBS’s American Playhouse, the BBC and Telemundo. He produced the feature comedies A Day Without a Mexican and Love Always His other credits as director include: Revelaciones: The Art of Alvarez Bravo, Border Brujo which won at the San Antonio Cinefestival and NY Latino Film Festivals, and most recently, Tijuana Jews which won Best Documentary at the San Francisco Latino Film Festival and was broadcast on KPBS, Imagining Tijuana which focuses on popular conceptions and misconceptions of this border city and was premiered at the San Diego Latino Film Festival March, 2009. He’s currently working with USC’s Labyrinth Project, a center for digital interactive media on Homegrown Histories part an interactive exhibit opening at the Skirball Museum and Magnes Museums in 2010.
Co-sponsored by the UCI Departments of Chicano/Latino Studies, Film & Media Studies, and Spanish & Portuguese.