Words of Revolution Screening at the Downtown Independent, Los Angeles
An Interview by Luisa Crespo, Felipe Velez and Sydney Levine for SydneysBuzz
Words of Revolution
is a documentary by Junior Gonzalez about a culture trying to recreate itself
and progress from its recent history of violence. While the country of El
Salvador has suffered the aftermath of a civil war and the growth of gang
violence, Salvadorans residing in the United States face challenges with their
identity, culture, and negative connotations denoted by the media.
Through the hopeful voices of hip-hop artists, a professor, and a community activist, this documentary helps promote change and bring cultural identity to a community that is beginning a new chapter in their history…a chapter of peace, prosperity and unity. Highlighted in his film are New York Salvadoran hip hop pioneers Reyes Del Bajo Mundo (Kings of the Under World), Santos from San Francisco, and Fenomedon from Washington, D.C.
Junior Gonzalez is a talented, and socially conscious filmmaker with an MFA in Television from Loyola Marymount University. He has worked in the entertainment business for the last eight years, making several short films and music videos. His first feature project, Words of Revolution, is a brilliant combination of history lesson and popular culture that provides a positive view of the Salvadoran people living in the U.S. As he says: “Its been a ride, but I am still here continuing on with my dream of making films. Its my love and passion. I wouldn't want to do anything else.”
SB: What was your inspiration for making this film?
JG: I felt there was a need to make a movie about the Central American culture, specifically the Salvadoran culture as there is not enough information out there. We are pretty much the newest immigrant community and we continue to grow, but there isn’t a lot of information about us. We are getting tagged with a lot of gang issues that are happening within the community. I’m trying to change this perception of my community and give an authentic feel to the picture of the Salvadoran culture. If people don’t know about our culture, then I want to give them an authentic feel to our community and let them know who we are.
SB: Have you made other movies?
JG: I made a lot of short films, and music videos. I received my undergraduate degree at Arizona State U. in Communications, and I’m an alumni of LMU, receiving my MFA in Television. I have strong ties to LMU as I learned to use a camera, to edit, and how to tell a story from my program. After I graduated from college, I stayed in LA for one year. A lot of things didn’t work out as it is for anyone starting out. I finally got this project going, Words of Revolution, and finally made it happen. This is my first feature project.
SB: Do you know about distribution?
JG: At the moment, I’m in the process of looking for distribution. I’m taking the film to different places. Next month, I will be going to San Francisco and am going to be screening in the Mission District area. I will be presenting my film at different festivals. I decided to screen this film in Los Angeles to get feedback, and consider additional changes before I go on the festival circuit. Hopefully, I will get to the point where I can have the film distributed. My goal is to have the film seen by as many people as possible to educate them about my community.
SB: You set up the screenings by yourself?
JG: I set up this screening, and have been invited to screen
at the Mission District Community Center.
SB: Did you come to the US as a child?
JG: I was born here. I forgot to mention that I’m Salvadoran American and the movie takes the perspective of someone who was born in the U.S. As my family and many others came to the U.S. to escape the civil war in El Salvador, we had a lot of identity issues because it took us a while to develop our experience in this country. I use hip-hop to tell the story to of the music, culture and history.
SB: Your school experience before you went to LMU that guided you to pursue a career in the creative arts?
JG: I was always a movie lover. Every summer when I was little I watched a lot of videos. When I started school I wasn’t sure what to pursue, but then I took a class in production. I already had the idea that I might like this, and the class allowed me to observe in a studio. Little by little, I thought this is what I wanted to do and looked into production and film theory classes. After I graduated, I got a production assistant position with Telemundo in San Jose and this gave me the basics of production. I then went to LMU, and learned a lot including making mistakes. I’m glad I was able to learn from my mistakes.
SB: Are you originally from San Jose?
JG: I’m from the San Jose area. Los Angeles is the largest concentration of Salvadorans and then Washington DC. San Francisco has a large community but it is one hour from San Jose. I didn’t get the experience of growing up in a large Salvadoran community, but my mom kept the culture 100% in my home.
SB: Well, your documentary gives a very educational and positive message, and we wish you the best for you.