What do you get when you mash up La Bamba and From Dusk till Dawn? You might be tempted to say the newly announced cast for season two of From Dusk till Dawn: The Series — and you wouldn’t be too far off — but the connections between that groundbreaking social-realist biopic of Ritchie Valens and Robert Rodriguez’s supernatural cult classic are about to get even deeper. And once again its all thanks to Rodriguez’s love child with extended cable TV, El Rey Network.
Though in this particular case, it’s not each film’s respective actors who are coming together, nor are we talking about some bizarre post-modern biopic about a vampire Chicano rock musician (although that would pretty dope), but rather an extended, televised conversation between Rodriguez and “The Father of Chicano Theater,” Luis Valdez, who was a pioneer in Chicano film and brought the world both 1981’s Zoot Suit and the Golden Globe-nominated La Bamba.
The conversation will be the latest installment in a series of hour-long specials El Rey has dubbed The Director’s Chair, in which Rodriguez sits down with someone along the lines of Francis Ford Coppola or Guillermo del Toro and just kinda nerds out about film. Stateside Latinos in particular should keep a look out for this episode, as Valdez will be bringing his background in Chicano political activism to the table in what will surely be an enlightening conversation between two U.S.-born Latino filmmakers who have made entire careers out of keeping it real.
The son of migrant farmworkers, Valdez first established himself in the world of political theater when, inspired by the struggles of César Chávez, he founded a group called El Teatro Campesino. When his play “Zoot Suit” started catching eyes at the Hollywood studios, Valdez passed up more than a few sweet offers for the play’s rights, insisting on directing the film adaptation himself. His gambit payed off, and Valdez subsequently earned a reputation as a sort of living legend in Latino Hollywood, both for his pioneering representation of Latinos on the big screen and his unwavering sense of social responsibility.
The Director’s Chair with Luis Valdez will premiere on Sunday, March 29 at 8pm and will be followed by a special screening of La Bamba.