Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
Actors: Alexa Vega, Michael Peña, Yancey Arias, Laura Harring, Efren Ramirez
Director: Edward James Olmos
From the producer of Selena and directed by award-winning actor Edward James Olmos comes the stirring true story of courage and justice. The year is 1968, the height of the national civil-rights movement. Paula Crisostomo ... more »
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Deborah Earle | USA | 12/10/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"My introduction to the social activism of young Latinos during the Civil Rights Era came via a C-Span promotion of a book entitled "We Were There, Too", which features stories about real-life teenagers who helped shape the course of American History during various eras.
This HBO film, which is 2006's answer to "Iron Jawed Angels", fleshes out the characters involved, many of whom take part in the reenactment of their story.
It is early 1968 in East Los Angeles, California. Young Paula Crisostomo (a beauteous, effervescent, and charismatic Alexa Vega) and honor student at the predominantly Chicano Abraham Lincoln High School, observes the indignities imposed upon her fellow students by condescending White school authorities. Students are denied access to the school restrooms at certain times of the school day, but are punished for going to the bathroom behind the bushes of the campus or on grilles in the pavement. They receive corporal punishment for speaking Spanish in class (which, in real life, included slapping by teachers, although this is not portrayed in the film), they receive no information about Chicano contributions to American Society in History Class, are denied recommendations for Universities, and when in detention, are forced to do janitorial duty. The White principals don't even care to learn how to pronounce students' names properly, and when students' petition for better treatment is met with apathy by the predominantly White School Board, Paula, who has joined a group of radical Chicanos whom she met at a student leadership conference, suggests that the inner city schools stage a walkout.
Michael Pena, as Sal Castro, is fun-loving, instructional, and inspiring as the only Chicano teacher on the LHS faculty, who guides the young students through their struggle.
Paula, who works in a movie theatre, also faces opposition from her father(Yancey Arias), a janitor, who disliked her association with perceived agitators, but receives a bit more support from her mother (Laura Harring--still as lovely as she was when crowned Miss Universe in 1985), who expresses concern about Paula's potential repetition of a life mistake that she made.
March 6, 1968 begins with tense anticipation (as well as continued police surveillance) for Paula, Harry Gamboa(Germain de Leon), Mita Cuaron (Marisol Romo), Moctezuma Esparza(Bodie Olmos), and all the young leaders of the protest.
But at 9AM, an anxious, and initially weak-voiced Paula bravely fulfills her end of the bargain, as do the others. It is a truly powerful moment captured by the media.
A fun moment follows as we watch Sal, the students, and Brown Berets dance to "Land of a Thousand Dances" in celebration of their peaceful protest.
They receive word from the Chicano member of the School Board, Julian Nava (a dignified Edward James Olmos, who masterfully directed this production) that their demands would be considered the following week. Ultimately, the student leaders are not satisfied with that, and there is a second walkout the following day (in which some schools participate, but others do not), which has hazardous results.
The leaders of the protest are fully aware of a police informant among their ranks, although they were unable to place him, or her. The protests of March 9 are met not only by police brutality towards unarmed students-some of whom are hospitalized--but also by innacurate commentary
about the event by a condescending White news commentator who lacks any real understanding of minority issues to add insult to injury.
The final school protest finds Lincoln High School students participating in the walkouts yet again, only this time, joined by their parents in the wake of potential police hostility.
As Sal observed, it was a beautiful day to be a Chicano.
The beauty and solidarity of that moment is soon shattered by the arrests of the Brown Berets, Sal, and others as Paula prepares for her prom. A weeping Vickie Castro (Tonantzin Esparza), the college student who befriended Paula, comes to collect the High School Senior to figure out a plan of action.
The Chicano community rallies in protest against the unlawful arrests, and we see students aspiring to become more than society allows them to be.
One of the most stirring and heartening scenes is when Bobby Verdugo's brother (Gabriel Torres), asks him, "What are you going to be when you grow up, Bobby?", and Bobby responds, "I don't know. But when I find out, I'm going to be it!"
Que viva la esperanza!
Paula eventually confronts the informant as she and a crowd of Latinos demand the release of the East L.A. 13, and the American systems of justice and education gain a few more friends that day.
The walkouts spread across the country, and America is a better place in many ways as a result.
The question the majority of Americans should ask as they watch this brilliant film is how they would feel if their children were treated the same way in school. An interesting question considering that the same year the East L.A. 13 had their convictions thrown out of court, four white students (who were protesting more violently than the Latinos) were shot dead at Kent State.
Generally, this is a thoroughly commendable production about Chicanos, by Chicanos, capturing the turbulence of the '60s with precison, but leaving us with the message that anyone can change things for the better.
Inspiring and necessary!
David Lollar | Bakersfield, CA USA | 05/31/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"With so many negative role models in the media and real life for minority children, this film exposes society to a truly inspiring idea--the disenfranchised CAN succeed in mainstream America! "Walkout" is an amazing piece of history that should be required viewing for everyone, from Congress trying to legislate immigration reform to impoverished high school students who have never thought of a way up and out in life. Thank you, HBO, for championing this project and giving our society this authentic and moving testament to the power of education."
dianitah | milwaukee, eeuu | 05/10/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I began showing this to my Spanish classes as soon as it came out. In fact, one of my Mexican-American students told me about it (gracias Ian!). I teach in an urban school with a diverse population. Social justice is a huge issue in our building and community. I have been amazed at how much this film has impacted my students. They connected deeply with the students in the film. There are so many discussion topics that came out of the film: inequality, poverty, heritage languages, student activism, cultural chasms, the connection to the civil rights movement, I could go on. I urge everyone to watch this film. I encourage my fellow teachers to incorporate this film into their curriculum. And you don't have to be from an urban area to feel the power of the inequalities in the film or be Latino to feel the pride of these students. It gives me chills everytime I hear a student call "Walkout!" or "Viva la Raza" or "Chicano Power!""
Great Movie, important part of LA history
A. Gonzalez | Los Angeles, CA United States | 03/01/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I love this movie. The version I saw was an all but finished screening with the director a few weeks before the movie was shown on HBO. The movie had its cheesy moments but ultimately redeemed itself. I thought it was very well done.
I agree with the previous reviewer...this movie will make you proud of Chicano history the way Iron Jawed Angeles makes you proud of Women's History."