Beyond the billboards

Letter to the editor

To the editor:

We are the filmmakers responsible for the film “A Day Without a Mexican,” which has successfully been playing in California and Texas since May 14, and will be continuing its national rollout in selected theaters across America throughout the summer and early fall, including upcoming playdates in Denver, Phoenix, Las Vegas.

When we first released our film, the consensus by casual observers (who had not yet seen it) was that our film mocked the role of Latinos in California, and that it was “anti-Latino.”

We want to assure everyone that this is simply not the case.

The initial wave of the ad campaign for the pic featured print billboards with the slogan, “On May 14, There Will Be No Mexicans In California.” A billboard located in Hollywood bearing that message was erected at 10 a.m. on Friday, April 23, and removed due to citizen complaints within four hours. Another billboard was removed a week later, on April 30, due to similar complaints.

Our film represents the first U.S.-distributed feature film ever from Mexico City’s Televisa Cine, and has, to date, grossed over $ 3.2 million, with many more markets yet to come. Televisa Cine has not encountered any resistance to “A Day Without a Mexican” from exhibitors across the country.

We strongly believe that our independent film, wholly produced in California by Latino filmmakers, was far from being an anti-Latino, anti-immigrant film. The movie aims to highlight the contributions of the Latino community as key human resources building the wealth of California, the world’s fifth largest economy. It’s a political satire. Humor works as a Trojan horse that allows us to reach the minds of people who would otherwise shut us out.

We’re Mexicans and we live in America, and we’re proud of who we are and what we contribute to this country and to California. Many Californians look to blame Mexicans and Hispanics for causing the state’s financial troubles, but that’s ridiculous.

Our film is a bold statement, to which everyone will react in their own way. We knew that the title of our film and our ad campaign would be bold and risky, but we truly hoped, and continue to hope, that we can get a public dialogue going about the importance of the Mexican and Latino population.

Sergio Arau and Yarelli Arizmendi

Arau is writer and director, and Arizmendi is writer and star of “A Day Without a Mexican.”

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