For over a decade John Valadez searched for the remains of Joaquin Murrieta, a legendary Mexican outlaw who embarked in a trial of revenge and rebellion following the theft of his land, and the rape and murder of his wife. In the summer of 1853, Joaquín Murrieta was killed by bounty hunters who put his head in a jar for public display across California. Over one hundred and sixty-two years later, Valadez is convinced he finally has the head, and embarks on a quixotic, cross-country road trip through history, memory, and myth to bury the head of Joaquin Murrieta, and finally lay to rest a dark and troubled past - one that has chilling parallels with the filmmaker's own family story.
John Valadez is a Peabody Award winning filmmaker (received Emmy nominations) who has written and directed 11 nationally broadcast documentary
films for PBS and CNN over the past 18 years. He grew up in Seattle, taught photography in India, and today makes his home in upstate New York.
Last year two of his films War and Peace , about Latinos in World War II, and Prejudice and Pride about the Chicano movement aired on the landmark
PBS documentary series Latino Americans. John’s films have tackled such diverse subjects as the false imprisonment of a leader of the Black Panther Party;
Latino gangs in Chicago; the history of Chicano music; 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 - places like 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.
John has been a Rockefeller Fellow, has twice been a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellow and he recently completed a stint as Artist-in-Residence at Texas State University. John studied documentary filmmaking at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts where he received a BFA in film and television and, he is completing a companion book to his Emmy nominated PBS/Independent Lens documentary The Longoria Affair - a history of Mexican American civil rights told through the volatile relationship between President Lyndon Johnson and Dr. Hector Garcia.
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