When the renowned sculptor, John Houser, began creating a monument to the Spanish conquistador Juan de Oñate for the city of El Paso, it was supposed to be a little larger than life size.   But he secretly harbored a dream: to build the largest bronze equestrian statue ever created in human history.  Cloistered away in a remote and forgotten corner of Mexico City, John and his son Ethan worked endlessly for ten years crafting an exquisite and foreboding icon.  To some, it is magnificent, alluring and seductive, a fitting tribute to the extraordinary  contribution Hispanic people have made to the building of the American west.  It is a history that they feel has often been maligned or ignored by mainstream historians.  To others it is a frightful reminder of a time when the sword and the cross were used to decimate those who would defy the will of the Spanish crown.
 
When Native Americans across the southwest found out about the statue they were deeply offended.  They remember Oñate as the man who cut off native peoples feet, who took their children and sold them into slavery, and who brought terror to their land generations ago.  So they began to organize.  They took a stand in opposition to the proposed monument, and they vowed to shame the city of El Paso into recognizing the dark and terrible aspects of this painful history.  Many of the citizens of El Paso became deeply divided, often along lines of race and class.  How does a community honor a founding father without dishonoring those who suffered and whose lives were destroyed?  What is the role and responsibility of the artist when he creates a grand work of public art?  How do we come to terms with a defining landmark that is viewed by some as a monument to culture and to others as a glorification of genocide?

With stunning cinematography by the acclaimed Swiss cameraman Elia Lyssy, the filmmakers take us on a wild and surreal journey filled with shocking revelations, triumph and heartache. 

Filmmakers John J. Valadez and Cristina Ibarra spent seven years trailing John Houser as he pursued his quixotic quest.  What emerges is a deeply personal exploration of history, brutality, determination and the longing of one man to articulate in bronze the grand and terrifying sweep of history. 

The film will receive a national prime-time broadcast on the award winning PBS series POV in the summer of 2008.
A documentary film by John J. Valadez and Cristina Ibarra
To Learn more about:
WRITTEN, DIRECTED AND PRODUCED BY JOHN J. VALADEZ PRODUCED AND DIRECTED BY CRISTINA IBARRA
EDITED BY KEIKO DEGUCHI AND JEAN-PHILIPPE BOUCICAUT 
CINEMATOGRAPHY BY ELIA LYSSY MUSIC COMPOSED BY RICHARD MARTINEZ 
ASSOCIATE PRODUCER AND ADDITIONAL CAMERA DUSTINN CRAIG SOUND JOHN J. VALADEZ
ADVISORS SIMON J. ORTIZ, OSCAR MARTINEZ, MARC SIMMONS  
EXECUTIVE PRODUCER JOHN J. VALADEZ A PRESENTATION OF THE INDEPENDENT TELEVISION SERVICE, 
LATINO PUBLIC BROADCASTING, NATIVE AMERICAN PUBLIC TELECOMMUNICATIONS, 
AND KERA DALLAS/FT. WORTH FUNDING PROVIDED BY THE NATIONAL ENDOWMENT FOR THE ARTS, 
THE NATIONAL ENDOWMENT FOR THE HUMANITIES, THE NEW YORK STATE COUNCIL FOR THE ARTS, HUMANITIES TEXAS, THE SUNDANCE DOCUMENTARY FUND, POV/THE AMERICAN DOCUMENTARY
AND PBS WITH FUNDS PROVIDED BY THE CORPORATION FOR PUBLIC BROADCASTING
A PRODUCTION OF THE KITCHEN SYNC GROUP INC / VALADEZ MEDIA UPCOMING SCREENINGS  John Houser The Spanish impact on
Native peoples People in the film The Twelve Travelers Project  Juan de Onate The Last Conquistador THE FILMMAKERS TO ORDER SCREENINGS/NEWS VALADEZ MEDIA CONTACT
 
 
 
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