'Precious Knowledge" Premieres at LALIFF, July 19

Documentary interweaves the stories of students in the Mexican American Studies Program at Tucson High School

By LatinoLA Sources
Published on LatinoLA: July 8, 2011

'Precious Knowledge" Premieres at LALIFF, July 19

The 15th Annual Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival presents the Los Angeles Premiere of the documentary film Precious Knowledge. The screening will take place Tuesday, July 19th at 7:10pm at the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood, California as a part of the Latino Public Broadcasting showcase.

A Q & A with filmmaker Eren Isabel McGinnis will follow the screening.

McGinnis will be joined by several stars of the documentary and will travel by caravan from Tucson to Los Angeles for the premiere. This timely documentary is an absolute must-see for anyone interested in the crisis in education and race relations in our border states.

"Los Angeles is a historical hot bed for Chicano activism," said Producer McGinnis. She goes on to say, "Californians will be able to identify with the struggles of Tucson High School students as they battle against Arizona's notorious anti-Latino legislation."
Students from Lincoln High School, home to activist Sal Castro and the 1968 walkouts, have been invited to the special screening by the student stars of the Precious Knowledge documentary.

Jeff Biggers of the "Huffington Post" states, "In a balanced but unabashedly passionate film, Precious Knowledge serves as a remarkable and seemingly more honest counter argument to last year's widely acclaimed Waiting for Superman, the documentary film on charter schools and the failure of public instruction."

The documentary Precious Knowledge interweaves the stories of students in the Mexican American Studies Program at Tucson High School. While 48 percent of Mexican American students currently drop out of high school, Tucson High's Mexican American Studies Program has become a national model of educational success, with 93 percent of enrolled students graduating from high school (average over five years) and 85 percent going on to attend college. The filmmakers spent an entire year in the classroom filming this innovative social justice curriculum, documenting the transformative impact on students who become engaged, informed, and active in their communities.

Precious Knowledge is timely as the nation turns its focus toward a wave of anti-immigration legislation in Arizona, with other states planning to follow suit. Along with their harsh anti-immigrant stance, Arizona lawmakers recently passed a bill giving unilateral power to the State Superintendent to abolish Ethnic Studies classes. Precious Knowledge provides an insider's perspective to a historic battle over civil rights as the student leaders in Tucson High fight to save their classes.

The students are able to mobilize rapidly with texting, facebooking, optimism, and a megaphone.

Mounting a public relations campaign to discredit the passionate students, lawmakers and politicians express concerned that Paulo Freire's textbook, The Pedagogy of the Oppressed teaches victimization and sedition, and they ask that the classroom's Che Guevara posters be replaced with portraits of founding father Benjamin Franklin. Meanwhile, the students answer back by fighting for what they believe is the future of public education for the entire nation, especially as the Latino demographic continues to grow. Precious Knowledge dramatically illustrates what motivates high school teachers and students to form the front line of an epic civil rights battle.

Precious Knowledge is a co-production of Dos Vatos Productions, the Independent Television Service (ITVS), Arizona Public Media, and Latino Public Broadcasting, with funding provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB).

Ari Luis Palos and Eren Isabel McGinnis of Dos Vatos Productions began working together in the green tobacco fields of Kentucky during the production of POV's Tobacco Blues. While living in Oaxaca, M?®xico, they selected the work of virtuoso guitarists and chanteuse Lila Downs for the soundtrack of their Global Voices and True Stories PBS series hit show Beyond the Border. Developing their continued interest in documenting civil rights battles, they recorded the voices of some of the finest opera singers in the world while creating The Spirituals. Chicano art, music, and a wellspring of activism lured them to Tucson, Arizona where they currently reside.

Ari Luis Palos has directed and shot a number of films including: The Beauty Salon, Mas Alla de la Frontera/Beyond the Border, Impresario, The Kentucky Theatre, El Rio de los Perros/The River of the Dogs, Al Garete/Adrift, Corazon del Plata/Heart of Silver, and The Spirituals. Palos enjoys participating in Tucson's All Soul's Procession; a performance art extravaganza where he transforms into a dead vaquero to mourn and celebrate loved ones who have passed. He once rode a Harley Davidson motorcycle from Oaxaca, M?®xico to a small factory in Nicaragua, just to smoke the world's finest cigar.

Eren Isabel McGinnis has produced 19 movies including POV's Tobacco Blues, The Girl Next Door (shortlisted for an Oscar!), Beyond the Border, The Spirituals, and Dos Vatos-M?®xico. She has a degree in Cultural Anthropology from San Diego State University, and a certificate in Film and Video Theory and Production from the University College Dublin, in Ireland. McGinnis, a Fulbright scholar, spent a year of living, writing, and filmmaking in Juchit?ín, M?®xico. She is currently in training for the grueling El Tour de Tucson bike ride and enjoys hiking in the Sonoran desert or any place where there is a trail to the mountaintop.

The Egyptian Theater is located at: 6712 Hollywood Blvd, Hollywood, CA, 90028: (619) 574-8684.

Visit the Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival website at: latinofilm.org. Additional information can be found by calling LALIFF at: (818) 521-3807.

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