Painter Carlos Almaraz was a revolutionary. His work came to define the burgeoning Chicano street arts movement and presented the lives of Chicanos in murals and on canvas in a way that hadn’t been showcased before. Now, a documentary seeks to tell the story of his legacy and life – which was cut short when he died of AIDS in 1989 at 48 years old. Helmed by his widow Elsa Flores Almaraz and Richard Montoya, Carlos Almaraz: Playing with Fire looks to be just as grandiose as the legendary artist’s work.
Clocking in at just 45 seconds, the teaser trailer starts with a slow zoom towards actor Edward James Olmos sitting beside a pool. Olmos’ booming, sonorous voice narrates the trailer, poetically giving his thoughts on Almaraz. He describes the painter’s “layered and restless canvas,” and its cinematic and epic nature comes to life while scenes play out depicting the artist at work, as well as footage of cars on fire. Olmos is just one of a list of noteworthy cast of talking heads, which also includes Dolores Huerta, and Shepard Fairey.
Born in Mexico City, Almaraz spent his formative years in the barrios of East LA. His work has endured, and is shown the world over, considered a landmark in the world of Latinx art. But while this trailer certainly captures the attention of those who already know who Almaraz is, it may struggle to entice people unfamiliar with him.
Since this is just a small taste let’s hope a full-scale trailer will come out soon to give audiences more of a look at Almaraz’s work.