Luis Valdez is the screen writer and director of the popular movie “La Bamba.” Valdez recently earned a Lifetime Achievement award from the Sedona International Film Festival. He talked about the honor and his career with Horizonte’s Jose Cardenas.
Cardenas started by asking Valdez to talk about El Teatro Campesino. “El Teatro Campesino is still very much alive, we’re into our 56th year,” Valdez said. “We started on the picket lines of the Delano Grape Strike, Cesar Chavez gave me a great opportunity to participate in the movement.”
Valdez grew up in Delano and therefore, understood what it was like growing up in the campos. He and many others in his community were migrant farm workers.
“The basic truths that I learned lead me into theater and I was able to launch “Teatro Campesino” with the permission of Cesar as part of the nonviolent movement,” Valdez said.
This is the 35th anniversary of Valdez’s film “La Bamba” which was played at the Sedona International Film Festival before the presentation of his award.
Valdez mentions that Ritchie Valance’s life story is part of American pop culture which generated the idea of making a film like this, long before “La Bamba” was created. While opening “Zoot Suit” on Broadway in 1979, Valdez and his brother got the idea of filming something centered on the 5os. At that moment they looked down the street and saw a mariachi band playing a song they loved.
“They were playing the music, the song that answered our question. That song was ‘La Bamba,'” Valdez said.