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Screening celebrates Chicano culture

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Krista Huey
Staff Writer

The Pomona Valley Film Society hosted a screening of “Chicano Rock! The Sounds of East Los Angeles” and “Soul of Lincoln Heights” Saturday at Progress Gallery in Pomona.

The screening was followed by a Q&A session with the producers of the movie, David Trevino and Ruben Molina.

About 75 people were in attendance.

“Chicano Rock! The Sounds of East Los Angeles” highlights the history of Chicano music in the United States, and features Chicano musicians such as Lalo Guerrero, Ritchie Valens, Cannibal and the Headhunters, Thee Midniters, El Chicano and Los Lobos.

Clips of their performances and commentary from external sources portrayed how Chicano music incorporates different sounds, and is the sole music of Latinos living in Southern California.

“Chicano music is a living part of our community culture,” said Mando Lawrence, an East Los Angeles resident. “It’s a worldwide phenomenon that’s reviving our music and heritage. You’re not going to see it on the news, it’s something you have to experience.”

The film provided viewers with the history of Chicano music, such as its origins in East Los Angeles.

Incorporated into the film was storytelling surrounding prominent Chicano musicians and the way music allowed them to express their Mexican-American identity in America.

“The music and culture in ‘Chicano Rock!’ applies to my family because of our connections to the city of El Monte,” said Rachel Gutierrez, Rio Vista Elementary School teacher. “The music is passing down our heritage to different audiences and informing them of Mexican origins.”

The film went on to explain the way that Chicano music reflects the sounds of the streets, and depicts what is happening in Chicano communities.

Singers oftentimes sang about their culture, social injustices and educational disparities in Los Angeles.

“‘Chicano Rock!’ brought back memories to me. It shows that music is still alive and evolving,” said Juan Parrino, East Los Angeles resident.

The second movie, “Soul of Lincoln Heights,” documented the story of Frank Vaca as he overcame a gunshot injury to his leg.

Vaca’s wife and children also gave their perspectives on how his injury affected their family.

“Soul of Lincoln Heights took us 15 months to film because it took a while for the family to open up to us,” producer David Trevino said.

Vaca was depicted as a music enthusiast living a fast-paced lifestyle.

There were even comparisons made between him and a car throughout the film because of how quick-paced he would live.

However, Vaca’s life changed after a critical night when a drive-by shooting left him with a bullet in the leg.

The incident left Vaca unable to walk and was bound to a wheelchair, preventing him from carrying out his normal daily routines.

As a result, he sold his cars, stopped listening to music and distanced himself from his family.

Nevertheless, the efforts of Vaca’s grandson to bring music and cars back into his life allowed him to heal and rekindle his relationship with his family.

After the two films were played, the audience had a chance to ask Molina and Trevino some questions about their work.

The audience engaged with the producers and asked about the background of the film, as well as information on any upcoming projects they are working on.

The two said they plan to release more work that celebrates Chicano culture within the next couple of years.

The Pomona Valley Film Society’s next movie screening is “Leather Eagle” at the Progress Gallery in Pomona on March 21 at 5 p.m.

The Progress Gallery is located at 300 S. Thomas Street in Pomona, and their hours run from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday through Saturday.

Krista Huey can be reached at krista.huey@laverne.edu.

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