Texas A&M University-Kingsville

Acclaimed Chicano Filmmaker and Actor Show New Film at Texas A&M-Kingsville May 30

KINGSVILLE - May 19, 2008

Contact: Jason Marton
jason.marton@tamuk.edu or 361-593-4143

Featured in the photo (L-R): Domingo Chavez, Efrain Gutierrez
Featured in the photo (L-R):
Domingo Chavez, Efrain Gutierrez

Texas A&M University-Kingsville System Center-San Antonio alumnus Efrain Gutierrez, recognized by scholars as the first Chicano filmmaker, will show his newest production Barrio Tales/Historias del Barrio: Tops, Kites and Marbles at Texas A&K-Kingsville’s Jones Auditorium Friday, May 30 at 7 p.m.

The film premiered at CineFestival in San Antonio April 12. Following its Kingsville showing, it will run in the Cine Cuauhtemoc Pan American Film Festival at the University of Houston-Downtown June 16.

The movie tells the story of a grandfather suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, who is able to remember the days of his youth while teaching his granddaughter the classic childhood games of tops, kites and marbles. Comic relief comes from the characters Baby Marin and Primo, featured in Gutierrez’s last movie Lowrider Spring Break en San Qilmas, released in 2001.

“The idea for Barrio Tales comes from my wonderful memories about the barrio I grew up in,” said Gutierrez. “Too many movies about gangs and drugs make others not appreciate the beautiful people in the barrios.”

According to Gutierrez, the film is the first in a series of Barrio Tales. The next, Barrio Tales: Skateboarding Barrio Olympics, will start production in November.

Barrio Tales/Historias del Barrio: Tops, Kites and Marbles is recommended for all audiences. Admission is $7 for adults and $3 for children.

Barrio Tales is the fifth film Gutierrez has made in his career, which started back in 1976 with Please Don’t Bury Me Alive! or ¡Por Favor No Me Entierren Vivo! That film was the first feature directed by a Chicano, and its successful independent production and distribution served as a model for future Chicano filmmakers working outside of traditional Hollywood.

His filmmaking career was born from a dissatisfaction working in front of the camera. “I was an actor living in Hollywood, where the minor roles that I got were stereotypical parts of drug dealers, gang members and Latin lovers,” said Gutierrez.

“In 1971, I was offered a co-starring role with John Wayne, but only if I portrayed the characters as timid and docile. After the third reading, I knew Hollywood was not for me. I turned down the role and moved back to San Antonio.”

Gutierrez founded the Chicano Arts Theatre in 1971, followed by his own film company in 1974, which he used to produce his first film. Please Don’t Bury Me Alive! and Gutierrez’s next two films have since been restored and preserved by the UCLA television and film archives, as part of their Chicano Cinema Recovery Project. In addition, Stanford University collected production papers from Gutierrez for their Green Library Archives.

In Barrio Tales, actor Domingo Chavez reprises the role of Baby Marin from Lowrider Spring Break en San Qilmas, his first film with Gutierrez. Chavez is an alumnus of then-Texas A&I University, graduating in 1988 with a bachelor’s degree in communications and theatre arts.

He moved to Kingsville two years ago to care for a sick relative, and has become known by young people around town through his work as a substitute teacher with the school district. Chavez wants that audience in particular to see the other side of him, which has been acting extensively in film, television and the voiceover arena for some 20 years.

Acting credits for Chavez include parts in the films Robocop II and Selena, local and regional television roles, and voice work for Japanese anime.

“I’m anxious for people to see what I’ve been up to, and to show that alumni are doing good things,” said Chavez.

In addition to alumni Chavez and Gutierrez, the production crew for Barrio Tales also included the director’s wife Irma Salinas de Gutierrez, a graduate of Texas A&M University-Kingsville System Center-San Antonio who served as the executive producer and production manager.

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