Well-known director to celebrate Pachanga at UHV

April 16, 2011 at 5:05 p.m.
Updated April 15, 2011 at 11:16 p.m.

Director Jesús Treviño wasn't raised in the bright lights of Hollywood, but in his 40-plus-year career, the Los Angeles resident has documented the equal rights movement of Mexican-Americans and risen to heights few have seen as a top director.

Treviño will be in Victoria this week for Centro Victoria's Community "Pachanga," or party, a four-day slate of events featuring top TV, writing, musical and theater talent. The director of "Law & Order: Criminal Intent," "Bones," "Prison Break" and other TV hits will give a public talk at noon Tuesday in the Alcorn Auditorium of UHV University West, 3007 N. Ben Wilson St.

On Wednesday, Treviño will be on hand for simultaneous screenings of parts of his Showtime production, "Resurrection Blvd.," at 7 p.m. in the Alcorn Auditorium and the UHV University Center Multi-Purpose Room. Treviño will stay to answer questions after the screenings.

"My wife tells me she sleeps for both of us, so I don't have to," Treviño joked about his career, a four-decade constant churn of TV, movies, documentaries and even a book. "But I have been fortunate to get started early as an activist in the Chicano movement. I picked up a Super 8 camera and started documenting the 'movimiento.' That led to a job at the PBS affiliate in Los Angeles, which eventually led to episodic TV."

After getting a bachelor's degree in philosophy, Treviño applied to five graduate film schools and was turned down by them all. But his determination to film the Chicano movement of the late 1960s and early '70s put his career in fast forward.

"We were monitoring the bad stuff going on in education in East L.A., things like principals beating up on kids, the feeling of being forced into the 'work' path, and teachers and counselors not helping students explore any type of college option," he said. "That led to my filming documentaries for Chicano organizers to illustrate and organize for the next march."

Treviño said KCET, the local public TV station, heard about "this crazy Mexican kid" filming the movement from the inside and hired him to do the same. He started as a production assistant on the first Mexican-American talk show, but within a month, he was involved as a co-producer and co-host.

"It was a baptism by fire at KCET, but in 1982, 'Yo Soy Chicano' was the first documentary to air nationally that was about Latinos and produced by a Latino," he said of his film that featured activists Jose Angel Gutierrez and Dolores Huerta.

Treviño said today's new platforms represent new opportunities. When he began, he had to rent equipment for several hundred dollars each week, buy expensive film stock and endure arduous editing. But affordable video cameras and modern editing software have brought the barrier to entry down considerably.

Treviño's current project is "Latinopia.com," a website that will have more than 100 videos by year's end featuring interviews with writers, musicians and more. His long-term goals for Latinopia are educational and entertainment, featuring documentaries, profiles, interviews and history. He eventually hopes to create original dramas of fiction - written, produced and directed by American Latinos, an underrepresented group in both English and Spanish TV.

"Statistically, Latinos use the Internet more than other people, and the younger generation is certainly getting into it," he said. "In my mind, this is the future."

The director will be welcomed by Centro Victoria Managing Director Macarena Hernandez, who teaches UHV communications courses.

"Jesús Treviño is a TV giant and pioneer, and we're so lucky that he'll be visiting with us for several days," Hernandez said. "He's been so generous with his time, so we've got a packed four days for him."

Jeffrey Di Leo, dean of the UHV School of Arts & Sciences, said Centro Victoria's work is important in bringing artists to the community, but also in closing the education attainment gaps among ethnic groups.

"What is going on at Centro Victoria is exciting to anyone interested in the arts and to anyone invested in education," he said. "No other university in the country has invested in an initiative like this to reach the growing Latino student population. This is an important part of our educational mission, and Centro Victoria is a big part of what makes UHV a forward-thinking, attractive place for higher education."



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