An all Latino cast gives life to “El Chicano” a Mexican-American superhero guarding the barrios or neighborhoods of East Los Angeles. This film is being featured at the Palm Springs International Film Festival, and it already getting praises for pushing for more diversity in Hollywood. Both director Ben Bray and producer Joe Carnahan said that a film with an all latino cast is overdue.
“We’re seeing brown faces, familiar faces on that screen,” Bray said. “As much as it’s Joe [Carnahan’s] and I’s film, it’s also for the community.”
The story behind this mysterious vigilante was inspired in Bray’s own upbringing.
“The idea of El Chicano came from a metaphor from not having a father,” Bray said. “It’s your mother, grandmother who raises you, who raised us, and you know, just being exposed to the food, the culture, the decisions you make, the gang life, drugs.”
The film has big star Hispanic actors such as George Lopez, Emilio Rivera and Kate del Castillo. The film is echoing the work of Crazy Rich Asians, Black Panther or Spiderman: Into the Spiderverse, which are bringing minorities to the big screen. However, the making of El Chicano was not an easy journey.
“Everybody said no, didn’t matter the script was good, it didn’t matter that we had an intriguing idea, the percentage of people buying those tickets; they just don’t get it,” Carnahan said.
The plot is set in East LA, which is a place that was a key player during the Chicano Movement in the 60s. Chicano was initially a derogatory term used to describe Mexican-Americans, which later became a source of empowerment. From high school walkouts in East LA to protests organized by the United Farm Workers Foundation, Mexican-americans joined the Civil Rights Movement to ensure workers rights and to improve school programs.
“The idea of being proud of where you’re from and who you are and being from this place, and not having to shy away from this place, not having to shun the idea that I’m Mexican-American,” Carnahan said.
While the film is all about empowering Latinos, it has a universal message that is relatable to all cultures and ethnicities.
“Inclusion and that idea that we are all together the same,” Carnahan said.”Hopefully, these kids do come out and get all fired up because they saw something of themselves.”
The film will be played at the Mary Pickford Theater on January 9th at 4pm, and it will be available in theaters in May 2019.