Saturday, December 06, 2008

Movie will focus on Supreme Court decision that led to more rights for Hispanics

This is wonderful! -Angela

Movie will focus on Supreme Court decision that led to more rights for

By Charles Ealy
Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Wildfire Films, a new movie production company based in Austin,
announced Tuesday that it is planning to start work early next year on
a feature film about legendary Hispanic civil rights leader Gustavo
"Gus" Garcia in Texas.

The movie, titled "16 Minutes," is expected to focus on the lawyer's
flamboyant, rough-and-tumble life leading up to his 16 minutes of
arguments before the Supreme Court in the landmark 1954 civil rights
case Hernandez v. Texas.

The high court's decision, which helped establish equal protection
under the law for Hispanics, was decided only a few days before Brown
v. Board of Education, the widely known landmark ruling that led to
the end of public-school segregation for black Americans. But some
historians have since argued that the Hernandez case was just as
important and has been unjustly overlooked by history.

The same argument can be made for Garcia, says Isidro Aguirre, a
script consultant who has been researching the Texan's life since
1984. "It's important to recognize our heroes," Aguirre says, "and
many people in Texas and around the country have never even heard of
Gus Garcia," an alcoholic who died destitute in a San Antonio park in
1964. Garcia also was instrumental in Delgado v. Bastrop, an attack on
the segretation of Mexican Americans in Texas schools.

Wildfire Films representatives said Tuesday that "16 Minutes" would be
the first in what they hope will be a series of Hollywood-style movies
to be shot in Texas in the coming years.

Operating from an expected base at the Austin Film Studios, the
company's partners are: Anton Diether, a longtime writer with such
credits as the Hallmark TV series "Moby Dick"; Mark Hacker, a story
editor and script consultant who's working on the screenplay for "16
Minutes" with a team of writers, including Austin playwright Amparo
Garcia Crow; Leon Rodriguez, who recently directed "Double Tap,"
starring Daniel Baldwin, and will be the director of "16 Minutes"; and
Jesus "Chuy" Carrera, an art department/set designer specialist whose
most recent project is 20th Century Fox's upcoming film "Dragonball."

Wildfire said it has partnered with Fred Roos Productions, Overture
Films, Starz Media and other companies to help finance coming
productions. A budget of $25 million is expected for "16 Minutes," the
partners said.

Rebecca Campbell, head of the Austin Film Society, said she welcomed
the news of Wildfire's upcoming work in Texas, "especially during a
time when productions have been moving to Shreveport and elsewhere
because of incentives being offered in other states." She expressed
hope that a new incentives package, kicking the current five-percent
tax break for filming in Texas to 10 or 15 percent, would make its way
through the 2009 legislative session to help preserve filmmaking in
Austin and the rest of the state.

Wildfire said it has not yet decided who will play Garcia in the
movie, which may begin shooting in South Texas as early as February.

The legal case that will serve as the climax for "16 Minutes" deals
with a Mexican-American laborer, Pete Hernandez, who was indicted for
murder after a killing in a bar fight in Jackson County.

He was convicted by an all-white jury, but Garcia, who was the legal
counsel for the League of United Latin American Citizens, and other
lawyers argued that the 14th Amendment ensured that Hispanics were a
distinct group with the same constitutional protections as other
minorities. Specifically, they argued that race and class were factors
in the exclusion of Hispanics from Jackson County juries. In a
unanimous verdict, Earl Warren, who was then the high court's chief
justice, ordered a new trial for Hernandez. Hernandez was re-tried and

With additional material from film critic Chris Garcia.


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