Locally-shot film documents Hispanic heritage

SAN BENITO — The Narciso Martinez Cultural Arts Center and The Greater Dallas Legal and Community Development Foundation continue with their 2016 Hispanic Heritage Celebrations with a screening of the critically-acclaimed documentary “Chulas Fonteras” (1976), The Roots of Tex–Mex Music.

The film is produced by Les Blank and Chris Strachwitz and was shot in Eagle Pass, San Antonio and the Rio Grande Valley.

The documentary, according to Professor Juan Rodriguez, UC San Diego, is “absolutely the best Chicano documentary film that I have seen to date … it is our history, rescued without excuses and without romanticism but with vitality.”

“Chulas Fronteras” features the music of the early Conjunto pioneers Lydia Mendoza, Narciso Martinez, Santiago Jimenez, Los Alegres de Teran, Ramiro Cavazos of Los Donnenos, Los Pinguinos del Norte, Flaco Jimenez and Rumel Fuentes.

More importantly, the film depicts the daily life experiences of Mexicans on the border — farmworker experiences, the conjunto radio and recording industry, family settings making tamales, weddings, dancing, crossing the hand-drawn ferry in Los Ebanos and more.

On Labor Day, there was a commemoration in honor of the farmworkers who went on strike at La Casita Farms in Starr County and who marched to Austin, demanding $1.25 an hour minimum wage.

There is a corrido in the documentary by El Dueto Reynosa, “Los Rinches Te Tejas,” describing the events of the strike.

Seeing “Chulas Fronteras” is the best way to get an understanding of the music, culture and the way of life of working people along the Texas–Mexican Border.

There will be a live conjunto music presentation by Juan Lugo (accordion) and Chuy Zuniga (bajo sexto) founding members of The Chicken Club of Laurels.