Chulas Fronteras

Opens Aug 19, 2019

1976, New 4K Restoration! Aug. 19-22 Only!

Documentary master Les Blank and Chris Strachwitz's Chulas Fronteras is a joyous introduction to Norteña music and culture that exists along the Texas-Mexican border. The music is a fusion of traditional Mexican harmonies, German dancehall rhythms, and a little something extra. From soulful, lively dance tunes to political work songs, música Norteña has evolved since the turn of the 20th century into a unique Mexican-American hybrid. Blank & Strachwitz link the music's spirit and vitality to the strong family bonds of Tejanos. The plight of migrant workers adds a sobering backbeat to this joyous film. (58 min.)

Preceded by the short "Del Mero Corazón," directed by Blank and Maureen Gosling. (29 min.)

Bios of a few of the film subjects thanks to UCLA's The Strachwitz Frontera Collection of Mexican and Mexican American Recordings :
Los Alegres de Terán, a vocal duet founded by a pair of humble migrant workers from northern Mexico, stands as one of the most influential, long-lived and commercially successful regional music acts from the last half of the 20th century. The duo of Tomás Ortiz and Eugenio Ábrego are today remembered as the fathers of modern norteño music, the accordion-based country style that traversed borders as fluidly as its immigrant fans.

Lydia Mendoza (1916-2007) was one the most enduring and highly honored female artists to hail from the immigrant Mexican-American communities of the Southwest United States. Nicknamed “La Alondra De La Frontera” (The Meadowlark of the Borderlands) and “La Cancionera De Los Pobres” (The Songstress of the Poor), the singer-guitarist enjoyed a career that spanned well over half a century, hundreds of recordings, and thousands of personal appearances.

Starting humbly as a child singing with her impoverished family for tips, Mendoza quickly emerged as a pioneer in the field of Mexican-American popular music. She became the genre’s first female superstar at a time when the business of vernacular music was still in its infancy, and dominated by men. For decades she served as a role model and inspiration for other female artists.