About The Head of Joaquin Murrieta

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For over a decade filmmaker John J. Valadez searched for the remains of Joaquin Murrieta, a legendary Mexican outlaw who blazed a trail of revenge and rebellion following the theft of his land, and the rape and murder of his wife. In the summer of 1853, Murrieta was killed by bounty hunters who put his head in a jar and displayed it across California, charging people a dollar to see their trophy. One hundred and sixty-two years later, Valadez is convinced he finally has the head. So together they embark on a quixotic, cross-country road trip through history, memory, and myth to bury the head of Joaquin Murrieta and to finally lay to rest a dark and troubled past—one that has chilling parallels with the filmmaker’s own family story. The Head of Joaquin Murrieta is an entertaining and often disturbing tale that tears open a painful and long ignored history: the lynching of Mexican Americans in the southwest. This screening is sponsored by Chiricú Journal: Latina/o Literatures, Arts, and Cultures; the Latino Studies Program; La Casa, Latino Cultural Center; and IU Cinema. Director and Writer John J. Valadez is scheduled to be present. (Digital Presentation)

John J. Valadez is a Peabody-Award-winning filmmaker with two Emmy nominations, who has written and directed over a dozen nationally broadcast documentary films for PBS and CNN during the past 18 years. His films have tackled such diverse subjects as the false imprisonment of a leader of the Black Panther Party; Latino gangs in Chicago; segregation in America’s schools; the history and impact of Latino civil rights on American society; and the genocide of Native Americans in the Southwest.  They have garnered top prizes at film festivals from San Francisco to Mumbai, and have been featured at major museums and cultural institutions across the United States and Europe, including MoMA, The National Gallery of Art, The George Pompidou Centre, Lincoln Center, The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, The Phoenix Art Museum, The Berlin Film Festival, and the Hirschhorn Museum.

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