Latina/o Media Makers series features writer, director Jesús Treviño

Center for Mexican American Studies
Center for Mexican American Studies

Does anyone remember the collective sigh let out a couple of years ago by Latinos across the country when comedian Tina Fey was asked on the show “Billy on the Street” to name 20 Latino performers and failed miserably?

I do.

While there’s still much work to be done to raise the visibility of Latinos in television, film and music, there are plenty of talented Latino/a media makers constantly blazing a trail of change. Among those trailblazers is Jesús Salvador Treviño, a writer and director whose television credits include everything from “Dawson’s Creek” to “Star Trek Voyager.”

Treviño will be featured at the Latina/o Media Makers series presented by the Center for Mexican American Studies at the University of Texas. The series showcases film and media makers who have contributed importantly to Latina/o visibility and media production. The screening and Q&A begins at 5:30 p.m. on March 7 at the Belo Center for New Media.

Throughout his career, Treviño has helped tell the stories of Latinos through documentaries and books. He served as co-executive producer of the groundbreaking PBS documentary “Chicano! History of the Mexican American Civil Rights Movement” and wrote and directed the feature film “Raices de Sangre,” or Roots of Blood. In 2016, he won the prestigious American Book Award for his collection of short stories “Return to Arroyo Grande.”

And keep an eye out for the next featured presentation in April, which will highlight Jim Mendiola, an independent film maker writing a book about the history of U.S. Chicano/Latino independent filmmaking. For more details, visit liberalarts.utexas.edu/cmas/.

KLRU features Austin Soundwaves music education program on documentary

Students at Blackshear Elementary practice plucking. Photo contributed by KLRU-TV
Students at Blackshear Elementary practice plucking. Photo contributed by KLRU-TV

For some Central Texas students, it’s boosted hope. For others, it’s helped shape dreams.

In 2011, the Hispanic Alliance of Performing Arts launched Austin Soundwaves, a free and intensive music education program that offers musical training, one-on-one instruction and mentoring to low-income youth. Inspired by El Sistema, a renowned Venezuelan music education method aimed at strengthening communities, Austin Soundwaves makes studying music accessible.

Now, the program will be the subject of an “Arts in Context” documentary called “Music For All” premiering on Austin PBS station KLRU-TV at 7:30 p.m. July 30. It’ll also air on Aug. 1 at 6 p.m., Aug. 2 at 1 p.m. and Sept. 27 at 1:30 p.m.

The moving documentary highlights the lives of several of the participants as well as Austin Soundwaves Program Director Patrick Slevin who has followed the growth of the students throughout the years. The film also delves deeper into the El Sistema philosophy, which continues to grow around the world.

Students at Blackshear Elementary receive their instruments.  Photo contributed by KLRU-TV
Students at Blackshear Elementary receive their instruments.
Photo contributed by KLRU-TV

In an Austin 360 story about Austin Soundwaves’ launch, arts reporter Jeanne Claire van Ryzin noted that Latino participation in the arts is lagging, even as the population grows. She pointed to a 2008 study by the National Endowment for the Arts that found that “only 36 percent of the adult Hispanic population attends arts events, compared with 55 percent of the Anglo adult population. For classical music, the numbers are even smaller, the study found: Only 3.8 percent of the adult Hispanic population attended a classical music event, compared with 11.3 percent of the Anglo adult population.”

“For Slevin, Austin Soundwaves is the first step towards providing the world class fine arts education that all students deserve,” says Maury Sullivan, Senior VP for Community Engagement at KLRU-TV.

Watch the “Music For All” trailer here:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cuban hip-hop duo Krudas Cubensi featured on KLRU documentary

Krudas Cubensi, a female hip-hop duo, will be featured in an upcoming documentary on Austin PBS station KLRU-TV.
Krudas Cubensi, a female hip-hop duo, will be featured in an upcoming documentary on Austin PBS station KLRU-TV.

When Cuban hip-hop duo Krudas Cubensi stormed the underground rap scene on the island in the late 1990s, they stunned crowds with their lyrical explosions about feminism, race and veganism, tackling taboo subjects at the time that made unsuspecting crowds squirm.

With their poetic truths, MCs Olivia Prendes and Odaymara Cuesta launched their musical mission for social justice despite the obstacles they faced not only as female rappers but as openly lesbian women shaking up societal norms.
Krudas Cubensi have now made Austin their home, and are the subjects of an upcoming “Arts in Context” documentary premiering on Austin PBS station KLRU-TV at 7:30 p.m. June 25. “Somos Krudas” will also be available to watch online for free starting June 26 on klru.org.

I met Prendes and Cuesta a few years ago, and remember thinking, when hearing them speak in their native tongue, that even their conversations flowed like rhymes. They’re natural poetic orators.

During an interview with them in 2012, we chatted about their decision to leave Cuba for Austin.“We became aware of the strong international Latina, feminist, queer and vegan movements” outside of Cuba, Prendes said during that interview. “So many things going on in the world, and it was as if we were locked up. Forget it. We knew we were ready for the world, and so we took that step toward change.”

Krudas Cubensi’s latest album “Poderosxs” (Powerful), which is available on cdbaby.com, was released in 2014 and brings spitfire lyrics that are unapologetic, refreshingly open and uninhibited.

Keep up with Krudas Cubensi at facebook.com/KrudasCubensi. Catch their next Austin performance at the Sahara Lounge’s Cuban Festival on Aug. 2 starting at noon-10 p.m.

Hector Galán’s ‘Children of Giant’ premieres on KLRU Friday

James Dean plays with children who were visiting the set of "Giant" during filming in 1955 in Marfa. Residents of Marfa describe Dean as being the most accessible of the movie's stars in the new documentary "Children of Giant."
James Dean plays with children who were visiting the set of “Giant” during filming in 1955 in Marfa. Residents of Marfa describe Dean as being the most accessible of the movie’s stars in the new documentary “Children of Giant.”

In Austin filmmaker Hector Galán’s latest documentary, “Children of Giant” he explores how the 1955 film “Giant” – which took over the West Texas town of Marfa with big stars like Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson and James Dean – brought issues like racial discrimination against Mexican-Americans to the forefront.

“Children of Giant” will premiere on the Austin PBS station KLRU at 9 p.m. on April 17.

Galán has been behind documentaries such as “Los Lonely Boys: Cottonfields and Crossroads” and “Chicano! The Mexican American Civil Rights Movement.”

Austin360 film editor Charles Ealy recently interviewed Galán about “Children of Giant.” Here’s an excerpt from Ealy’s story:

“A cemetery in Marfa is still divided by barbed wire, with Anglos on one side of the fence, where fees are charged for maintenance, and Mexican-Americans on the other side.

Yet the true focus on “Children of Giant” is on the feelings of Marfa residents, both Anglo and Hispanic, who watched the filming of the classic movie — and how many Mexican-Americans see the movie today as one of the first to expose the discrimination that they faced.”

Check out the full story here, and watch a trailer of the documentary below:

 

Buying power of Latino millennials explored in PBS series

Maria Hinojosa
Maria Hinojosa

If you identify as a Latino millennial, then advertisers are watching your consumer habits closely. As the population of Latinos in the U.S. rises, so does their buying power.

In a new episode of the series “America By the Numbers with Maria Hinojosa,” Austin-based advertising agency LatinWorks is featured for being ahead of this demographic shift. The episode titled “The New Mad Men,” will air on KLRU on Nov. 22 at 6 p.m. (check local listings for other PBS stations). The episode is also available online.

“Latinos are increasingly seen as pop culture influencers that can make or break brands, and marketers and advertisers are working hard to target this audience and harness that purchasing power,” said series anchor, Maria Hinojosa in a news release.  “As a result of the demographic changes we are reporting, a new ‘total market’ is emerging and at its core, Latinas and Latino millennials aged 18 to 34, are considered the main drivers of economic growth.”

My colleague Liliana Valenzuela interviewed award-winning journalist Maria Hinojosa, also of  NPR’s Latino USA, in the Statesman’s Spanish-language weekly ¡Ahora Sí! You can also read the English version here.

Hinojosa will lead a panel discussion after a special screening of the episode at KLRU on Nov. 21. The free event, which will include snacks and beverages, requires an RSVP.  A DJ will be spinning music after the panel discussion.