The 90th annual Academy Awards take place Sunday night, and a contingent of the Latinx community will be watching the Oscars with special interest this year: The Pixar film Coco, whose storyline hinges on the Mexican folk celebration dia de los muertos, is nominated for two academy awards, Best Animated Feature Film and Original Song for the tune "Remember Me."
But for some, Oscar night is a reminder that, Coco notwithstanding, Hollywood often fails to be inclusive. Two years ago that perspective hit a critical mass with the #OscarsSoWhite movement which did cause a bit of industry introspection.
In fact, you have to look beyond the studios of the Hollywood ecosystem and enter the world of independent film to find the diverse world that we actually live in.
This month, our primos at PBS will feature two documentary films made by independent Latinx filmmakers that tell two different, but equally crucial life stories that are important parts of the continuum that is the history of Latinx people in this country.
The long-running PBS series Independent Lens will offer the broadcast premier of the film Dolores, an in-depth look at the life and career of civil rights activist Dolores Huerta. Directed by Peter Bratt, it had a theatrical release in September 2017 with both the director and Huerta attending screenings around the country.
The Rise and Fall of the Brown Buffalo was directed by Phillip Rodriguez and tells the life story of Oscar Zeta Acosta, a controversial civil rights attorney and activist who was on the front lines of the Chicano Movement of the early 1970s. It will be presented as part of the series Voces, which is produced by Latino Public Broadcasting.
I spoke with the directors of the two films about their work, the stories they tell in their films, and their thoughts about filmmaking in general.
Dolores airs on March 27 at 9 p.m. ET (check your local listings) while The Rise and Fall of the Brown Buffalo airs on March 23 at 9 p.m. ET (check local listings).