Un Dia a La Vez

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a film about a local family owned restaurant

José Cárdenas: "UN DIA A LA VEZ: THE STORY OF VICTORIA GABALDON CHAVEZ AND HER FAMILY" IS A FILM ABOUT VICTORIA'S PERSISTENCE TO BUILD A LOCAL BUSINESS WITH HER STRONG WILL AND LOVE FOR COOKING. HER RESTAURANT LOS DOS MOLINOS IS A STAPLE IN THE VALLEY. WE'LL TALK MORE ABOUT THE FILM IN A MOMENT, BUT FIRST HERE IS A LOOK AT SOME OF VICTORIA GABALDON CHAVEZ'S STORY.

Person: IN SOUTH PHOENIX, THE HISTORY ON THAT. THOMAS IS WHAT I REMEMBER AND THAT IS THE FAVORITE PART OF THIS STORY BACK IN THE '20s.

Person: THERE WAS A RANCH AND MY HUSBAND LIVED ON IT. HE WOULD NOT LIVE IN THE CITY.

Reporter: HOW DID YOU FIND THAT BUILDING?

WE USED TO GO TO CHURCH AT ST. CATHERINES AND I PASSED IT AND I WOULD SAY THAT HOUSE IS BEAUTIFUL. IT WAS A MESS. IT WAS OLD, BROKE DOWN, FIRE IN THE BASEMENT, NEVER A RESTAURANT, ALL THE WINDOWS AND DOORS WERE BLOWN OUT. ONE DAY WE WERE PASSING BY AND I SAID LOOK, SOMETHING HAPPENED TO THAT BEAUTIFUL HOME. HE SAID, YEAH, IT BURNT. AND I SAID BUT THERE IS A BIG SIGN THAT IS GOING FOR SALE FOR AUCTION. I SAID HOW CAN THAT BE? AND HE SAID I DON'T KNOW. THERE IS A SIGN. I WENT BACK TO LOOK AT IT AND BID, I HAD NO MONEY, HE GAVE IT TO ME. HE SAID THERE IS YOUR RESTAURANT.

Reporter: BUT THAT RESTAURANT DID SO WELL THAT YOU PAID OFF EVERYTHING.

Person: YEAH, I PAID IT OFF IN SIX MONTHS. I JUST WOULD WORK NIGHT AND DAY. I AM NOT KIDDING YOU. I WOULD WORK 24 HOURS. I USED TO SLEEP ON THE BOOTH ON THE THING. I USED TO FALL ASLEEP THERE.

José Cárdenas: JOINING ME NOW TO TALK ABOUT "UN DIA A LA VEZ" ARE ALLEN MILFORD VANIK, DIRECTOR AND PRODUCER OF THE FILM. DREW MELTON, EXECUTIVE PRODUCER OF THE FILM AND THE GRANDSON OF VICTORIA GABALDON CHAVEZ. THANK YOU BOTH FOR JOINING US ON "HORIZONTE." THE PIECE WE FEATURED FROM THE FILM FOCUSES ON ONE OF THE RESTAURANTS THAT OPENED LATER IN TIME. THINKS ALL STARTED REALLY IN HER LIFE BACK ON THE NEW MEXICO-ARIZONA BORDER WHERE SHE GREW UP AND WE HAVE A PICTURE WE WILL PUT UP OF HER. HER HIGH SCHOOL PICTURE. VERY STRIKING LOOKING YOUNG WOMAN AS YOU WILL SEE HERE. AND THEN THE STORY IS PRETTY MUCH A FAMILY ONE SO I WANT TO MAKE SURE WE ALSO TALK ABOUT YOUR GRANDFATHER AND HER HUSBAND. WE HAVE A PICTURE. HER WEDDING PICTURE. TELL US ABOUT THE FAMILY ASPECT OF THIS.

Allen Milford Vanik: IT IS THE STRONGEST PART OF THE STORY. VICTORIA IS A GEM TO INTERVIEW AND TALK TO. WHAT COMES THROUGH IN THE STORY IS FAMILY AND DEDICATION. BOY, THEY HAD SOME PROBLEMS. SOME DEVASTATING EVENTS IN THEIR FAMILY WHICH WOULD REALLY SETBACK ANY FAMILY A LOT. BUT SHE PER SU -- PERSEVERED AND HAD DEDICATION BASED ON SENSE OF FAMILY AND VALUES AND WHAT SHE SAW AS THE FUTURE FOR HER CHILDREN. THAT WAS -- IT WAS INSPIRING TO ME TO SEE AND HEAR ABOUT.

José Cárdenas: WHAT IS THE STORY BEHIND THE TITLE? ONE DAY AT A TIME? WHAT IS THE SIGNIFICANCE HERE.

Allen Milford Vanik: IT IS SOMETHING THE FAMILY SAYS. DREW CAN TALK MORE ABOUT THAT BUT THE IDEA IS THEY DON'T PLAN SO MUCH IN THE FUTURE OR THEY LOSE SIGHT OF WHAT IS HAPPENING NOW. THEY PLAN ONE DAY AT A TIME. THEY MAKE EACH DAY AS JOYOUS AS THEY POSSIBLY CAN AND THEN THEY WAKE UP AND START ALL OVER AGAIN.
José Cárdenas: DO I TAKE IT THAT IS PART OF WHAT ALLOWED YOUR GRANDMOTHER TO GET THROUGH SOME TRAGEDIES. THE LOSS OF ONE OF HER SON'S BEING ONE OF THEM.

Drew Melton: THIS IS ACTUALLY WHAT OUR FAMILY LIVES BY. IF YOU TAKE ANYTHING DAY BY DAY YOU WILL BE ABLE TO GET THROUGH IT. MY GRANDMOTHER, GOING THROUGH THE TRAGEDY OF LOOSING HER SON WHEN HE WAS 18 WAS DEVASTATING. HER ONLY SON. SO YOU KNOW ONE DAY AT A TIME IS HOW SHE DEALT WITH IT. SHE HAD A STROKE WHEN SHE FOUND ABOUT IT. HER PHYSICAL THERAPY TO GET OVER THE STROKE WAS TO KEEP WORKING AT THE RESTAURANT.

José Cárdenas: IT ALL STARTED BACK IN SPRINGERVILLE? THIS A-FRAME BED YOUR GRANDFATHER BUILT?

Drew Melton: YEAH, MY GRANDFATHER BUILT IT. IT IS BEHIND MY GREAT GRAND PARENT'S HOUSE. IT IS A TINY A-FRAME AND THEY HAVE TEN ITEMS ON THE MENU AND PEOPLE FOUND OUT ABOUT IT AND IT DID REALLY WELL.

José Cárdenas: ALLEN, WHY DID YOU WANT TO DO THIS STORY?

Allen Milford Vanik: I REALLY DIDN'T HAVE MUCH OF A CHOICE. DREW TOLD ME THE STORY OF IT --

José Cárdenas: YOU TWO ARE NEIGHBORS; RIGHT?

Allen Milford Vanik: YEAH. YEAH. AND I THOUGHT GOSH THIS AS A GREAT IDEA FOR A FILM. YOU SHOULD REALLY DO THAT. I DROPPED IT AT THAT POINT AND GOT OTHER IDEAS AND I COULD NOT GET LOOSE WITH THIS. I GOT THE IDEA, PITCHED HIM AND WE STARTED OUT ON THIS ADVENTURE I THINK THIS STORY NEEDS TO BE TOLD. IT IS ABOUT FAMILY VALUES AND PERSEVERING THROUGH TRAGEDY AND ENJOYING LIFE AND I FOUND THAT TO BE, LIKE I SAY, VERY INSPIRING.

José Cárdenas: THE FAMILY REMAINS VERY INVOLVED IN RUNNING THE RESTAURANTS, CORRECT?

Drew Melton: YEAH, THE FAMILY RUNS THE RESTAURANTS TOTALLY. EACH LOCATION HAS A MEMBER OF THE FAMILY. WE DON'T DO ANY KIND OF -- WE DON'T SELL ANY RESTAURANTS OUT TO SOMEONE ELSE OTHER THAN FAMILY. IT IS JUST FAMILY RUNNING THE RESTAURANTS. THE MAJORITY OF THE TIME IT IS FAMILY THERE.

José Cárdenas: FOR THOSE PEOPLE WHO DON'T KNOW WHAT A MOLINA IS TELL US THE STORY.

Drew Melton: MY GRANDPARENTS ARE MARRIED AND EACH SIDE GAVE THEM A MOLINA WHICH AS A GRINDER AND GAVE IT AS A SYMBOL OF THIS IS HOW YOU WILL PROVIDE FOR YOUR FAMILY. MY GRANDMOTHER WAS LOOKING TO NAME THE RESTAURANT AND WE WERE SITTING IN THE KITCHEN THERE AND THESE TWO GRINDERS WERE SITTING THERE. STEEL GRINDERS YOU COULD PUT CORN IN AND THEY GRIND IT OUT SO YOU CAN MAKE MASA TO MAKE CORN TORTILLAS.

José Cárdenas: I AM SURPRISED YOU HAVEN'T SAID ANYTHING ABOUT ROASTED CHILLIES. SOMETHING THE RESTAURANT IS KNOWN FOR.

Drew Melton: YEAH. IT IS FUNNY BECAUSE WHENEVER I THINK ABOUT CHILLY I THINK ABOUT GREEN CHILLE AND WE DON'T GRIND THE THEM. WE LIKE TO EAT THEM WHOLE.

José Cárdenas: THIS WAS YOUR FIRST ADVENTURE AS A DOCUMENTARY MAKER.

Allen Milford Vanik: IT WAS AND I THOUGHT THERE WOULDN'T BE ANY PROBLEM. I HAVE WORKED WITH PRODUCERS MOST OF MY CAREER AND TELEVISION AND RADIO AND VOICEOVER AND THINGS LIKE THAT AND THOUGHT THIS SHOULD BE OKAY. THEN I GOT INTO IT AND BELIEVE ME I HAVE A WHOLE NEW RESPECT FOR PRODUCERS AND WHAT THEY HAVE TO DO TO PRODUCE SOMETHING THAT IS INTERESTING. DID A LOT OF RESEARCH, LEARNED A LOT, IT WAS AN INTERESTING JOURNEY. I THINK IT ACCOMPLISHED WHAT I WANTED TO ACCOMPLISH. I AM JUST VERY GLAD I HAD THE OPPORTUNITY.

José Cárdenas: DREW, THE FAMILY IS OPEN RESTAURANTS MOSTLY HERE IN THE VALLY BECAUSE THERE WAS A PERIOD OF TIME WHEN THEY HAD THE RESTAURANT IN NEW YORK CITY. YOU WERE OPERATING THERE AND WERE THERE WITH YOUR MOTHER ON 9/11.

Drew Melton: I WAS JUST A BOY. MY MOM WOULD GO TO THE SITE WITH PRESSURE TORTILLA AND FEED AS MANY PEOPLE AS SHE COULD. SHE DID THAT ABOUT TWICE A WEEK. SHE DID EVERYTHING SHE COULD TO HELP AND WE HAVE A COUPLE HATS AND FIREFIGHTER HELMETS THEY SIGNED AND THEY ARE VERY GRATEFUL FOR US HELPING OUT AS MUCH AS WE COULD.

José Cárdenas: YOU ARE BACK IN PHOENIX AND THE FOCUS IS IN ARIZONA?

Drew Melton: YEAH. THE FOCUS IS IN ARIZONA. WE HAD A RESTAURANT IN MEXICO FOR A FEW YEARS. DIDN'T WORK OUT SO WELL DOWN THERE. BUT THE FOCUS IS IN PHOENIX.

José Cárdenas: WHO IS THE AUDIENCE FOR THIS?

Allen Milford Vanik: EVERYONE. I THINK EVERYONE SHOULD HAVE AN OPPORTUNITY TO SEE THIS. LIKE I SAY, IT IS INSPIRING AND IT WILL ENABLE YOU TO PERSEVERE THROUGH PROBLEMS ANY FAMILY OR HUMAN BEING HAS. JUST TAKE IT ONE DAY AT A TIME AND KEEP ON GOING.

José Cárdenas: HOW CAN PEOPLE ACCESS IT?

Allen Milford Vanik: IT IS ON YOUTUBE. YOU CAN GO TO ALLENMILFREDMANIC AND FIND IT THERE.

Jose: GREAT STORY. THANK YOU BOTH FOR JOINING US. AND THAT'S OUR SHOW FOR TONIGHT. FROM ALL OF US HERE AT HORIZONTE AND YOUR ARIZONA P-B-S STATION, I'M JOSE CARDENAS, HAVE A GOOD EVENING.

Video: "HORIZONTE" IS MADE POSSIBLE BY CONTRIBUTIONS FROM THE FRIENDS OF ARIZONA PBS, MEMBERS OF YOUR PBS STATION. THANK YOU.

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