Filmmaker John J. Valadez screening and Q&A | Department of Media Arts

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October 20, 2015

Filmmaker John J. Valadez screening and Q&A

The Head of Joaquin MurrietaAward-winning filmmaker John J. Valadez will screen his film The Head of Joaquin Murrieta followed by a discussion and Q&A session afterwards.

Valadez is a Peabody Award winner and has two Emmy nominations. He has written and directed a dozen nationally broadcast documentaries for PBS and CNN over the past 18 years. After growing up in Seattle, Valadez lived and taught photography in India; he now makes his home in a small New England village in upstate New York. He is a Rockefeller Fellow, has twice been a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellow, is a founding member of The National Association of Latino Independent Producers (NALIP), and recently completed a term as Artist-in-Residence at Texas State University.

The Head of Joaquin Murrieta is an irreverent, entertaining, and often disturbing tale that uses both fiction and documentary storytelling devices to tear open a painful and long ignored history about the lynching of Mexican Americans in the southwest.

For more than a decade Valadez searched for the remains of Joaquin Murrieta, a legendary Mexican outlaw who blazed a trial of revenge and rebellion following the theft of his land, and the rape and murder of his wife. In the summer of 1853, Murrieta was killed by bounty hunters who put his head in a jar and displayed it across California, charging people a dollar to see their trophy.

After 162 years, Valadez was convinced he finally had the head. So together they embarked on a quixotic, cross-country road trip through history, memory, and myth to bury the head of Joaquin Murrieta, and finally lay to rest a dark and troubled past -- one that had chilling parallels with the filmmaker's own family story.