Last Tuesday I moderated the Q&A with Cheech Marin at the Guadalajara screening of his greatest hit, "Born in East L.A." A lot of pochos living south showed up. They asked Marin how he view Tijuana, and asked about the future of Mexican American film, why there's so little still. Cheech's response was, given the demographic shifts happening in the U.S., "It's gonna change no matter what."
"Born in East L.A.," which Marin wrote and directed, remains the model, I think -- along with Luis Valdez's "La Bamba" and "Zoot Suit." I remember going to see the film at the drive-in theater in Imperial Beach with the whole family, and experiencing such a thrill even at six years old to see people like us, and places we knew, on the big screen.
At the Q&A, Marin told us that the inspiration for the film was a small news story he had read about an L.A. boy who had been wrongly deported to Tijuana. I mentioned to him afterward that incidents like that still happen. Off this case, I wrote a long feature for LA Weekly about Pedro Guzman, the Lancaster man wrongly deported from the L.A. County jail system in summer 2007. Guzman was eventually reunited with his family.
Above, the 'Waas Sappening' scene from "Born in East L.A."