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Picture of Luis Valdez.

This year’s Festival will honor Luis Valdez, an outstanding playwright, screenwriter, director and actor, with the 2009 Reel Rasquache Career Achievement Award.

Valdez’s ongoing legacy began at least as early as 1961 with his winning one-act, The Theft; following in 1963 with his first full-length play, The Shrunken Head of Pancho Villa, and in 1965 his founding of the world renowned El Teatro Campesino. His works also include the 1969 classic Chicano film, I Am Joaquin; the legendary 1976 public television series Visions; the incomparable 1979 stage masterpiece, Zoot Suit; the film Zoot Suit in 1981; the groundbreaking La Bamba; the public television’s Corridos: The Tales of Passion and Revolution; 1991’s La Pastorela; and the 1994 The Cisco Kid.

On Sunday, May 17 (closing night), Reel Rasquache will present tribute screenings of I Am Joaquin and Zoot Suit. Following the tribute screenings, Valdez will be presented with the 2009 Career Achievement Award. Cast members of some of his films will also be present.

Reel Rasquache Festival May 15-17

A West coast celebration of films by, about U.S. Latinos

The 6th Annual Reel Rasquache Festival of the U.S. Latino Experience in Film & Art – a West Coast celebration of films by and about U.S. Latinos – will be held this weekend May 15-17 at the Luckman Fine Arts Complex at California State University, Los Angeles.

The three-day film festival will also feature screenings in all formats and genres, including webisodes from across the U.S., filmmaking workshops, multimedia/spoken-word, live music and networking receptions.

Here are some of the highlights:

"GB 2525" promotional image

The festival will present the Los Angeles premiere of the American Latino urban/sci-fi, GB2525. Written and co-directed by Jojo Henrickson, the critically-acclaimed film will be screened during opening night—Friday, May 15—at the Intimate Theatre of the Luckman Complex.

In the futuristic GB2525, the only things that have changed... are the weapons.  In the dark, urban landscape of the future, a two-year gang truce is shattered when the leader of the most powerful gang, 54th Street, is brutally assassinated. Rival gangs battle time to ultimately discover a truth far greater than they could have ever imagined.

The High School Filmmakers’ Showcase—a professionally curated selection of films by local high school students—will be screened Saturday, May 16, from noon to 2:30 p.m. Admission is free. The showcase will also present two workshops, “Stepping Stones to a Career in Television” and “Writing from Your Soul.” A reception with live music by Gavica and the Cry for Love and Black Delta will follow.

"Las Grandes" promotional image.

The film Las Grandes de East L.A. and Boyle Heights will premiere Sunday, May 17, during Reel Rasquache’s 1 p.m. shorts program. Funded by the California Council for the Humanities’ California Story Fund, the “Las Grandes” project was directed by Dionne Espinoza, associate professor of Chicano Studies.

The film documents the lives of five women who help strengthen their communities through cultural preservation, social activism or community improvement. The film project combines the efforts of Cal State L.A. students and faculty, community activist and writer Claudia Rodrìguez, and faculty and students at Roosevelt High School, where students learned how to conduct research, use video equipment and prepare to interview sources.

For the complete festival schedule, go to

“Thanks to the dedicated and generous support of the entertainment industry, the community and the University, the Reel Rasquache U.S. Latino Film Festival has grown to take a seat at the table of notable and growing Los Angeles film festivals.  This is a testament to the industry's growing regard for the U.S. Latino market, the community's strong desire to see its stories told on the big screen, and the sincerity of Cal State L.A.'s commitment to our neighboring communities.” -- John Ramirez, festival director

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Last Update: 05/14/2009