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Celebrating The World Premiere Of “American Homeboy”

"American Homeboy" played to a full theater in Los Angeles this past weekend.

Stepping in front of a sold-out audience on August 10 at the L.A. Live Regal theater in Los Angeles, filmmaker/Daily Chela CEO Brandon Loran Maxwell premiered his documentary “American Homeboy” by sharing a story of his experience teaching himself to ride a bike. 

After crashing hard down a steep decline, he dusted himself off, licked his wounds, and proceeded back up the path to try again. The lesson would prove fortuitous when he began the process of creating his first feature documentary and figuring out how to get it to audiences.

“Sometimes, if you want to get things done, you’ve just got to grab the handlebars and you’ve got to do it yourself,” said Maxwell, to audience cheers 

With that, the world premiere of “American Homeboy” commenced for a packed theater house. The film takes viewers on a 100-year journey, chronicling the story of pachuco/cholo culture. From the Mexican Revolution/Mexican-American War, through Vietnam and the Civil Rights Movement, to the evolution of lowrider culture, Maxwell spent three years working on the film he wrote, edited and directed. 

Maxwell combed through approximately 2,000 hours of footage and interviews, and spent several years restoring archival footage that’s never been seen before. 

While the process was arduous, Maxwell wanted the theater audience to be aware of what the film was and wasn’t.

“This film is not an exhaustive analysis of every event that’s ever happened in Chicano history. I wanted to create a cursory overview of 100 years,” he said. “The film is also not a gang movie. I had a couple of people ask me if this is about gangsters. It’s not a gangster movie. Obviously, there’s cholo culture in it. My goal was to contextualize the subculture, and turn it back to what it should be, which is not a meme online.” 

The film features a number of Chicano/cholo culture luminaries: Author Luis J. Rodriguez, photographer Estevan Oriol, tattoo artist Chuco Moreno, and many more. 

Maxwell said rather than partner with a distribution company in traditional Hollywood practice, he decided to distribute on his own. The film will stream exclusively on The Daily Chela TV app for subscribers in September. 

“The old mode of doing things is not working, so we’ve got to find different ways to be creative,” he said. “We’ve got to find ways to create our own ecosystems and push those projects. And that’s my goal with this film.”

The film will also screen at several cities throughout the fall, including: Portland (Aug. 17), Albuquerque, NM (Aug. 22-24), Tucson, AZ (Sept. 7), Chicago (Sept. 14), San Francisco (Sept. 15), and Sacramento (Sept. 30). More dates are being added.

To learn more and to purchase tickets, visit www.AmericanHomeboy.com

About the author

Marcos Cabrera

Marcos Cabrera is a writer born and raised in Salinas, CA. He was a pop culture columnist for Media News Group and the USA Today Network. His work has appeared in the San Jose Mercury News, the Village Voice, and Zocalo Public Square. He is a founding member of the Chicano hip-hop/teatro collective Baktun 12 and has competed in the National Poetry Slam competition.

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