A scene from Paul Espinosa’s The Hunt for Pancho Villa
Perhaps it was the decade-long absence, but Paul Espinosa is one of those local treasures we don’t hear enough about. The award-winning writer, producer, director, social activist, and Kensington resident is currently being honored with a month-long retrospective of his documentaries.
Espinosa was absent from the local movie scene for almost ten years after being “recruited very persuasively by Arizona State University to help found a new school of transborder studies during the time that I was there.” But last spring, he retired from teaching and moved back to town.
After festival retrospectives in El Paso, Albuquerque, and Phoenix, Paul’s work is once again being showcased in the town he calls home. “It’s an honor,” he says with a smile in his voice. “Much of my work has been done in and around San Diego and its border regions. To be able to present this work in San Diego is terrific for me and also wonderful for audiences to be able to see the films, which in some cases hasn’t been available in quite a while.”
The Lemon Grove Incident
His best known film is probably the 1985 docudrama The Lemon Grove Incident that he wrote and produced for KPBS. “It’s really kind of a mixed genre,” he recalled. “It has true documentary elements — interviews with real people who are recounting their memories and experiences about this early segregation case that took place in 1930. Intermixed with these real memories are dramatized scenes of what happened. The film is about 80 percent dramatized reenactment and 20 percent interviews with real people, along with some archival motion picture footage.” The film took home dozens of film festival awards as well as a trio of Emmys from the San Diego Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.
Good news for Paul, bad news for those who want to attend the festival: Friday night’s presentation of The Lemon Grove Incident at UCSD’s Cross Cultural Center is sold out. Ditto the Digital Gym’s screening of The Hunt for Pancho Villa on November 4. There are, however, plenty of seats still available for MoPA’s November 10 presentation of ...and the earth did not swallow him. It too shall sell out, so get your tickets now.