Posted by paulrivas on:
The Santa Barbara Man About Goleta loves the Multicultural Center (MCC) at UCSB. In fact, when he interviewed for a job in the UCSB Department of Communication, he cited the MCC's Wednesday film series, with its cool topics and free coffee, as something no undergraduate should miss. The three white interviewers' response was to look at each other expectantly and shrug. MCC? Multicultural? Never heard of it.
However, this Wednesday's film, Hijos de la guerra, which the MCC flyer (the MCC produces more flyers than China does Chinese food) billed as, "a multi-award feature-length documentary film about the world's largest street gang: the Mara Salvatrucha, also known as MS-13", is an example of exactly what the MCC should not settle for: movies that win awards not because they're good movies but because they're movies about good topics. Yes, MS-13 is a fascinating topic with many facets, but no, the film did nothing to explain anything beyond what could have been learned in five minutes on Wikipedia.
The film was very well attended, with about 40 people being forced into an overflow room beside the packed MCC theater, among them your Santa Barbara Man About Goleta, Rivas Cultural Services associate Shane Amaya, and the latter's mother, ex Santa Barbara News-Press reporter Melinda Burns.
My interest in the film was twofold. At a crackhead park in South L.A., Goleta native and life artist Bubba Ray Robison teaches P.E. at a charter high partially populated with MS-13 members. And in downtown Santa Barbara, my beloved and I lived next door to a house that our landlord said housed Mara Salvatrucha.
I'd been hoping for some kind of hint at what my old neighbors might have been up to in there, or what relationship MS-13 has with the Crips or Bloods or Echo Park Mexicans, or how exactly MS-13 grew to be the world's most violent motherfuckers, but none of that was in the film. There were a few gang killings caught on tape, and some scenes of deplorable Salvadorean prison conditions, and some interviews with the gang's founders and the US law enforcement agencies trying to destroy MS-13, but all very common sense and predictable and lacking insight.