‘Zoot Suit’ Director Luis Valdez to receive Lifetime Achievement Award at Mexican-American Film & TV Festival

The two-day film festival will take place May 20-21 at Harmony Gold Theater in Los Angeles, CA

The second edition of the Mexican-American Film & Television Festival will recognize the work of film director Luis Valdez, known as the Godfather of Chicano theatre, with a Lifetime Achievement Award during the two-day festival on May 20 and 21 in Los Angeles, California.


This year marks the 80th anniversary of the Zoot Suit Riots, and Valdez’s 1981 film on the incidents that lead up to the riots, “Zoot Suit,” will be screened on May 21st. Cast members from the film are confirmed to attend including Mike Gomez (Joey), Sal Lopez (Hobo), Angela Moya (Bertha), and Marco Rodriguez (Ismael).

According to IMDB, Valdez is known as the founder of modern Chicano theatre and film. He was born to migrant farm workers and spent his early life traveling with the family, working in the fields himself. His playwriting began while attending San Jose State College, eventually joining the United Farmworkers staging improvisational theatre with union actors to further their causes. He formed El Teatro Campesino, which produced most of Valdez’s early plays in both the US and Europe, including “Zoot Suit,” his account of racism in 1940s Los Angeles. A film version was released in 1981, to less than critical acclaim. His 1987 film La Bamba, the tragic story of Chicano singer Ritchie Valens, proved wildly successful and launched the screen careers of Lou Diamond Phillips and Esai Morales. Valdez continues to travel extensively while remaining true to his Chicano theatrical roots.

The Mexican-American Film & Television Festival is dedicated to promoting and preserving the rich cultural heritage of Mexican Americans in the United States. We believe that film and television are powerful mediums for telling our stories and sharing our experiences with the world.

Additional attendees during the film festival include Annie Gonzalez (Flamin’ Hot), Jesse Garcia (Flamin’ Hot) producer Moctesuma Esparza (Selena), actress Alex Meneses (Walker, Women Who Kill), actors Pepe Serna (Flamin’ HotWith LoveLife is Art), Enrique Castillo (Mayans MCBlood In Blood Out), Mauricio Mendoza (Reboot, Promised Land), Laura Patalano (This Fool), Jacqueline Pinol (Bosch: LegacyCriminal Minds), producer Yvett Merino (Encanto), director Jesus Trevino (Gospel BillLaw & Order), comedian Paul Rodriguez, and actress/influencer Lizza Monet Morales.

The two-day festival will run from Saturday, May 20th through Sunday, May 21st at the Harmony Gold Theater in Los Angeles. Films will screen on both days from 11:00am to 9:30pm.

SATURDAY, May 20, 2023
11:00am – 9:30pm – Screenings

Red Carpet Arrivals 

5:00 – 5:30pm – Festival Filmmakers/Sponsors/VIP invited

5:30 – 6:00pm – Cisco Kid Cast 

SUNDAY, May 21, 2023
11:00am – 9:30pm – Screenings

1:00 PM – Film Block: Flamin’ Hot trailer and chat with Annie Gonzalez and Jesse Garcia about their upcoming movie

1st Red Carpet Arrivals
3:00 – 3:45 pm – Zoot Suit Cast only/Festival Filmmaker

2nd Red Carpet Arrivals – Illustrious Awards
6:00-6:30 pm – Award winners/Dignitaries/Sponsors/VIP Guests ONLY
6:30-7:00 pm – Luis Valdez/Zoot Suit Cast/Sponsors/VIP Guests ONLY

The Mexican-American Film & Television Festival is produced by the Mexican-American Cultural Education Foundation, a nonprofit organization with the mission to change the narrative by educating the community about the endless positive contributions the Mexican-American people, (Chicano, Chicanx, Latino, Hispanic, Latinx, or 1st generation immigrants), and their rich culture have given to America, which is often unrecognized. 

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