S.F. Filmmaker Makes Ode to Slain Bay Area Teen ‘Love, Cecy’

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Jay Francisco Lopez began acting at an early age in theater, cinema, and television. Born in San Francisco to an immigrant mom from Trujillo, Honduras, he shot his first feature film, the award-winning Sin Padre in eight days in the S.F. Bay Area.

Jay is now working on Love, Cecy, his second feature, also set in the Bay Area and based on the true story of Cecilia Ríos, a 15 year-old Richmond High School student who was raped and stabbed over 18 times.


Her 1994 death was immortalized three years later in “El Corrido de Cecilia Rios” by Los Cenzontles. Several members of the Mexican regional band befriended the young woman since they all lived in San Pablo, a Bay Area suburb.

After two years of mulling over rewrites, Jay is now done with the first draft of the script and is in the process of raising money for the production of his film. His budget is $10,000 and he plans to start shooting Love, Cecy next Spring.

How did you hear about Cecilia Ríos?

Five years after her death, when I was fifteen, a friend of mine who attended her funeral showed me a picture of her. I said, “Oh my god, what happened to her?” There were so many different stories, so many different versions of what happened, and who’d done it. But I wasn’t concerned as much about how she died. I was concerned and curious about who she was.

How did you decide to make a movie about her?


After Sin Padre I wanted to take a break. I did it on my own; it was a lot of hard work. I did not have plans to make another movie any time soon. My friend asked me on Thanksgiving, “So what’s your next movie?” I do not know why I said it, “I’m doing a movie about Cecilia Ríos” and I was like, “Wait a minute, am I gonna do that?” And she was like, “Really? Are you gonna do a movie about her?” And I said, “Yeah, I guess I am. I’m gonna do a movie about her.”

Then I started my journey. The next two years, I got a hold of her parents, I got to know who she was, that she was born in Mexico, and she grew up in the Mission, and then moved to Richmond, that she had a boyfriend named Julio…

Can you share a scene from your script?

The movie opens with her quinceañera. That meant her becoming a woman, she was excited. And it was all taken away from her. It’s very hard to look at the pictures [of her quinceañera] because if you think about it, she just had five months to live after that.

Why do you want to make a film about Cecilia Ríos?

A lot of people have forgotten about her because it has been 20 years. If you were to mention her name in Richmond, that’s what people would say, “That’s the girl that got killed in Downer right?” But no one knew who she was. Her death put a toll on the community of Richmond and it was really hard on everyone, but her story never left Richmond.

My goal is to get her story out and share with the world who she was. The girl who wanted to be a poet, who wanted to be a lawyer, who had a lot aspirations, and a lot of goals. Her story is very touching; she was so young and had a whole life ahead of her.

This short experimental documentary, made in 1997 by Kristy Guevara-Flanagan, uses the song “El Corrido de Cecilia Ríos” to narrate the events of Cecy’s death.

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