(Los Angeles, CA) – Mexico’s 300-year-old son jarocho musical tradition comes vividly to life through the bittersweet story of José Luis Utrera, a young man who leaves his rural Mexican home to follow his dreams in America, forging a new life for himself through his family’s musical legacy. Produced and directed by Marco Villalobos, the new 30-minute film Beyond La Bamba premieres on PBS stations nationwide during Hispanic Heritage Month 2017 (September 15-October 15); check local listings.
A fusion of African, indigenous and Andalusian rhythms, son jarocho is one of contemporary Mexico’s oldest musical traditions. Rooted in the state of Veracruz and made famous worldwide by Richie Valens’ hit recording of “La Bamba,” son jarocho is noted for its unique instrumentation, including the use of the jarana, a small hand-made guitar.
Filmed over the course of several years, Beyond La Bamba follows José Luis from the poor but idyllic Veracruz countryside — where his family continues the tradition of creating world-class jaranas and are considered musical royalty — to the frigid streets of Milwaukee. After working in a meatpacking plant, a chance encounter brings José Luis to a local cultural center where he is surprised to discover that his family’s renown has reached that far north. He embarks on a new life of teaching and performing, finding love and sharing his musical heritage. A moving look at the emotional toll of the immigrant experience — the daily battle between the pull of the home and the quest for a better future — comes to life against the captivating rhythms of one of Mexico’s oldest folk music genres.
For more information, visit www.lpbp.org.
About the Filmmakers
Marco Villalobos (Director/Director of Photography/Producer) is a Fulbright Scholar, a UNESCO Aschberg Laureate, and a Latino Broadcasting Fellow who has written for television, film, and lifestyle magazines for over a decade. Marco’s work has most recently been featured on northern Californian public television station KQED’s arts blog, The Economist, and PBS NewsHour.
Daffodil Altan (Producer) is an Emmy-nominated journalist and documentary producer. Most recently, she produced the FRONTLINE/Univision documentary, Rape on the Night Shift, a collaboration between the IRP, Reveal at The Center for Investigative Reporting and KQED. The film won the Investigative Reporters and Editors award for best Broadcast/Video in 2016 and was nominated for two national Emmys. Her print, radio and production credits include FRONTLINE, Univision, MSNBC, Telemundo, KQED, PBS NewsHour, The Los Angeles Times, Mother Jones, OC Weekly, San Francisco Chronicle, among others. She has received awards for her work from Investigative Reporters and Editors, Inc., the Society of Professional Journalists, The San Francisco International Film Festival, the Los Angeles Press Club and the Imagen Foundation.
Raymond Telles’ (Executive Producer) thirty-five year career in film and television includes the production of numerous documentaries and segments for PBS, ABC, NBC, National Geographic, Discovery and Univision. Among the documentaries Telles has produced and directed are Pedro E. Guerrero: A Photographer’s Journey (American Masters), The Storm that Swept Mexico, The Fight in the Fields: Cesar Chavez and the Farmworkers’ Struggle, Children of the Night (Frontline) and The Peril and The Promise, part of the PBS series Latino Americans. Among the honors these programs have received are the Columbia DuPont, Peabody, Emmy, and Alma awards.
About Latino Public Broadcasting
Latino Public Broadcasting (LPB) is the leader in the development, production, acquisition and distribution of non-commercial educational and cultural media that is representative of Latino people, or addresses issues of particular interest to Latino Americans. These programs are produced for dissemination to public broadcasting stations and other public telecommunication entities. Latino Public Broadcasting provides a voice to the diverse Latino community throughout the United States and is funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Latino Public Broadcasting produces the series VOCES, PBS’s signature Latino arts and culture documentary showcase and the only ongoing national television series devoted to exploring and celebrating the rich diversity of the Latino cultural experience. Between 2009 and 2016, LPB programs won over 85 awards, including the prestigious George Foster Peabody Award as well as two Emmys, two Imagen Awards and the Sundance Film Festival Award for Best Director, Documentary. In addition, LPB has been the recipient of the Norman Lear Legacy Award and the NCLR Alma Award for Special Achievement – Year in Documentaries.