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Americanos: Latino Life in the United States

Executive producers, Lea Ybarra, Manuel Monterrey.

Executive producers, Lea Ybarra, Manuel Monterrey.

Directed by Susan Todd, Andrew Young. Camera (color), Young; editors, Harvey Greenstein, Young. Reviewed at Sundance Film Festival (competing), Jan. 22, 2000 . Running time: 81 MIN.

The diversity of America’s largest minority group gets a once-over-lightly examination in “Americanos: Latino Life in the United States,” a slickly produced celebration of ethnicity destined for HBO. Before and after its cable premiere, docu should receive ample exposure in fests and nontheatrical venues.

Directors Susan Todd and Andrew Young briskly cover a respectable amount of ground, taking their cameras everywhere from the mean streets of Miami to the California-Mexico border, from a convention of Latino low-riders in Dixon, Ill. (the boyhood home of Ronald Reagan), to a Puerto Rican social center in New York’s South Bronx. Interviewees are mostly upbeat and proud, though many — including Aida Alvarez, the first Hispanic woman to serve in a U.S. presidential Cabinet — recall struggles to overcome racism and stereotyping. Pic touches on sensitive issues with refreshing candor and good humor, and crackles with energy whenever El Vez, an audaciously clever Elvis Presley impersonator, performs on camera. Far more than just a clone of the King, El Vez turns pop standards into satirical ditties that lampoon, among other things, the common Anglo misconception that “Latino,” “Chicano” and “Hispanic” are interchangeable adjectives.

Americanos: Latino Life in the United States


Production: An Olmos Prods./BAK Prods. production in association with the Reflections Joint Venture. Produced by Nick Athas, Edward James Olmos.

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