A festival featuring Chicano films kicks off Friday at Oxnard College in what organizers hope will become an annual event.
Their first attempt isn't a small one--15 films over five days-- everything from the murals of Diego Rivera to documentaries on the United Farm Workers to surveys of Aztec ruins. There's even a movie titled "Low and Slow: The Art of Lowriding."
James Vega, a vocational counselor at the college and festival organizer, defended the decision to mix a movie about a pop subculture together with more serious subjects.
"I think lowriding is a form of showing pride and we need young people to get involved in activities that show positive results like lowriding."
The festival opens Friday with a locally produced docudrama about working conditions at a Somis flower ranch. "Slave Case: USA" is a 10-minute work-in-progress about the mistreatment of hundreds of Latinos that led to slavery charges against ranch owner Edwin M. Ives in 1990.
"The film contains re-enactments of the process by which the workers were smuggled here and the conditions they worked in, surrounded by barbed wire and subjected to psychological abuse," said Vega, who is a co-producer of the film.
Slavery charges were dropped as part of a plea bargain in which Ives pleaded guilty to corporate racketeering. He agreed to pay $1.5 million in back wages to 300 former workers, the stiffest fine ever levied in a U.S. immigration case.
"We had a tremendous response when we debuted the film at Ventura College on Nov. 4," Vega said. "We're expecting a big crowd Friday."
"Slave Case" screens at 6 p.m. in building LA-6. The rest of the festival continues Monday through Thursday. For more information call 646-2875.
If 15 Spanish language or Chicano films aren't enough, you can visit the Santa Barbara International Film Festival, also starting Friday and running through March 13.
On Tuesday the festival features "El Lado Oscuro del Corazon," an Argentine film. On the following Friday, the Santa Barbara festival is featuring "Cronos," a Mexican vampire movie, and on Saturday the world premiere of "...and the earth did not swallow him," a film based on the life of Chicano writer Tomas Rivera.
For information on screenings call 689-INFO.