News Release| CSULA; Cal State L.A.; Los Angeles; CSU; Reel Rasquache Film Festival 2009


Film Fest at Cal State L.A. May 15-17

Luis Valdez to Receive Career Achievement Award, Sunday, May 17

Los Angeles, CA The 6th Annual Reel Rasquache Festival of the U.S. Latino Experience in Film & Art—a West Coast celebration of films by and about U.S. Latinos—will be held May 15-17, 2009, at the Luckman Fine Arts Complex at California State University, Los Angeles.

This year’s Festival will honor the stellar contributions in the field of U.S. film and television by presenting Luis Valdez the 2009 Reel Rasquache Career Achievement Award.  This award honors one whose body of work stands as a national treasure, a career that embodies the tremendous scope and rich diversity of Latino experience and historical contributions in the U.S. 

Valdez’ outstanding career—as a playwright, screenwriter, director, actor for stage, film, television, dramatic narrative and documentary across the independent and commercial media spectrum, a scholar, and academic—encompasses some 15 works that comprise a body of creative achievement and dedicated activism that established Chicano theater and film and inspired their respective rich traditions.

As an alumnus of California State University, San Jose, his example underscores the promise of the CSU system as a pathway for historically underrepresented communities to achieve access and contribute excellence to the entertainment arts and industries.  His ongoing legacy began at least as early as 1961 with his winning one-act, The Theft; following in 1963 with his first full-length play, The Shrunken Head of Pancho Villa, and in 1965 his founding of the world renowned El Teatro Campesino. His works also include the 1969 classic Chicano film, I Am Joaquin; the legendary 1976 public television series Visions; the incomparable 1979 stage masterpiece, Zoot Suit; the film Zoot Suit in 1981; the groundbreaking La Bamba; the public television’s Corridos: The Tales of Passion and Revolution; 1991’s La Pastorela; and the 1994 The Cisco Kid.

These hallmark works are defined as “the embodiment of a quality of genius, vision, community commitment and social awareness that continue to give voice to the Chicano, Latino, and indeed human struggle for social access, recognition, and justice.” Valdez is described as “consistently advancing Latina/o representations by the memorable dignity, intelligence, humor, and multi-dimensions that emanate from his every creative and professional endeavor.”

Additionally, Valdez is a founding faculty and tenured professor of the Center for Teledramatic Arts and Technology at CSU Monterey Bay. His profile as an esteemed CSU academic is punctuated with honorary doctorate degrees from San Jose State, the California Institute of the Arts, Columbia College in Chicago, the University of Rhode Island, and Santa Clara State University.  

The citation from Chicago’s Columbia College sums up the regard with which he held both in the Latino community and the world: “Dramatist, Composer, Poet, Cinema and Theatre Director—your artistry honors the Mexican-American heritage and gives crucial strength and coherence to the struggle for a decent life and justice for those who work the American land.”

His recognition at the 2009 Reel Rasquache Film Festival will be not only by Cal State L.A. but indeed a show of appreciation by the CSU.  It will be an event of thanksgiving by the Chicano Studies programs across the CSU that share in the 40th anniversary of I Am Joaquin—the programs of study whose very existence and endurance owe so much to his vision and inspiration.

On Sunday, May 17 (closing night), Reel Rasquache will present Tribute screenings of I Am Joaquin and Zoot Suit.  Following the Tribute screenings, Valdez will be presented with the 2009 Career Achievement Award.  Cast members of some of his films will also be present.

The three-day Reel Rasquache U.S. Latino Film Festival will also feature screenings in all formats and genres including webisodes from across the U.S., filmmaking workshops, multimedia/spoken-word, live music and networking receptions.

For festival information, the Reel Rasquache website will be available at

For sponsorship opportunities, please contact Alan Templer at

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Reel Rasquache Publicity Director:

Griselda Navarro

Note to editors and news directors:

The festival’s logo is available for promotional and news purposes.


Working for California since 1947: The 175-acre hilltop campus of California State University, Los Angeles is at the heart of a major metropolitan city, just five miles from Los Angeles’ civic and cultural center. More than 20,000 students and 205,000 alumni—with a wide variety of interests, ages and backgrounds—reflect the city’s dynamic mix of populations. Six colleges offer nationally recognized science, arts, business, criminal justice, engineering, nursing, education and humanities programs, among others, led by an award-winning faculty. Cal State L.A. is home to the critically-acclaimed Luckman Jazz Orchestra and to a unique university center for gifted students as young as 12. Programs that provide exciting enrichment opportunities to students and community include an NEH- and Rockefeller-supported humanities center; a NASA-funded center for space research; and a growing forensic science program, housed in the Hertzberg-Davis Forensic Science Center.