In the summer of 2001, a group of students approached a newly hired Chicano Studies Professor, Richard T. Rodriguez, about the possibility of organizing a film festival. Initially imagined as a student-centered event, and an opportunity to expose new Latina/o talent to the campus community, the idea quickly became a project that had the potential to bridge the gap between the campus and its surrounding communities.
Such a festival could enable a space for showcasing work that often was eclipsed both by “all-encompassing” festivals and festivals focusing on particular geographical regions (i.e., Latin America). Such a festival would also have the potential to showcase work by and about U.S. Latinas and Latinos, a population quickly discarding minority status, yet still troublingly scarce, if not absent, in media representation.
California State University, Los Angeles, because of the strong student interest and support, as well as the potential to enhance the Department of Chicano Studies, one of the nations first Chicano Studies programs, supported the idea for a U.S. Latino/a film/video festival. The response and the interest that the small scale 2001 effort generated, confirmed that there was not only a campus audience, but also a community audience that would support future such film festivals.
Given his shared interest in U.S. Latino/a film making, Dr. John Ramirez, a media studies scholar in the Department of Communications Studies, joined with Dr. Rodriguez to further develop the concept for a film festival that would provide a showcase for independent U.S. Latina/o film makers from across the country. Dr. Ramirez has sustained the Festival as the Executive Director since 2005. Since its beginning in 2004, Reel Rasquache Art & Film Festival has made a special effort to focus exclusively on films and videos created by U.S. Latinos, from every branch of the country’s rich and diverse Latino population.
Since 2010, CASA 0101 has served as the fiscal sponsor for the Reel Rasquache Art & Film Festival. CASA 0101 is dedicated to providing vital arts, cultural, and educational programs—in theater, digital film-making art and dance—to East Los Angeles communities. The 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, CASA 0101 was founded by Josefina Lopez who is best known for authoring the play and coauthoring the film, Real Women Have Curves. Playwright, screenwriter, artistic director, and film producer, Ms. Lopez grew up in Boyle Heights and created a vision to bring live theater and her educational and cultural experiences to the predominantly Spanish-speaking immigrant community of Boyle Heights.
Our Audience profile:
• Diverse audiences, consisting of 80% Latino and 20% other
• Age groups range from teens to seniors, with predominant audience between 25-55 years
• Equal female and male attendance
• Working professionals
• Middle to upper middle-class income levels
Annually, the Reel Rasquache Film Festival attracts patrons from a broad Southern California footprint from the communities of East Los Angeles as far as San Bernardino, downtown Los Angeles, Echo Park, Silver Lake, Hollywood, West Hollywood, South Los Angeles West Los Angeles and Santa Monica, Ventura and Oxnard in the North and San Diego in the South.