A little bit of East L.A. takes root in Brazil.
NY Premier: South American Cho-Low (2014)
Wednesday, November 19th
Films starts at 8pm
633 Grand St (bet Leonard & Manhattan), Bklyn, NY 11211
Free popcorn, Juke Box Meccanica, $2 Bingo for Prizes. PRIZES!
Cine Meccanica is thrilled to host the NY premiere of the short documentary, South American Cho-Low, a look at the Low Rider scene in Brazil. Scoot on by for this special screening on Wednesday, NOVEMBER 19th. Screenings of the 15 minute short film at 8pm, 9pm, and 10pm. VIP Low Rider parking out front of course.
Unhinged Jaw Presents A Hairy Denim Production. A Film by PHUONG-CAC NGUYEN
SOUTH AMERICAN CHO-LOW
Starring Antonio “Alemao” Carlos Batista Filho Estevan Oriol Luiz “Gordo” Arnaldo Teixeira Christopher “Duel” Hall Mariana de Paula Martins Leandro Vinicius Pimenta Cabellos
Running time: 16 minutes / Language: Portuguese and English / Country: Brazil Format: DV / Completed: 2014 http://www.SouthAmericanChoLow.com
South American Cho-Low is a short documentary that examines the meeting point between cholo style and lowrider culture in Sao Paulo, Brazil. The film features interviews with major personalities and icons from the movement such as photographer Estevan Oriol, Christopher “Duel” Hall, Antonio Carlos Batista “Alemão” Filho, Luiz “Gordo” Teixeira, Mariana de Paula Martins and Leandro Vinicius Pimenta Cabellos, who take viewers through the world of lowriders, tattoos, religion and cholo style as they recount why they’re so passionate about Chicano and lowrider culture, and why they relate so much to those living the life in East Los Angeles. South American Cho-Low shows that despite the violence associated with gang culture, the Brazilian interpretation — where violence is noticeably absent — provokes the deeper question of what it means to truly be a lowrider and maintain a Brazilian identity.
In 2007, while walking around Sao Paulo’s downtown in search of places to feature in my guidebook to the city, Total Sao Paulo: A Guide to the Unexpected, I saw, from a distance away, a group of two stocky, twentysomething guys. One of them was dressed in a white Dodger’s jersey and matching blue hat, baggy denim shorts and white tube socks pulled up almost to the knees. His friend was in an XL-sized white T-shirt and khaki pants. Both had Nike Cortez sneakers on their feet, shaved heads and tattoos in classic lettering running up and down their arms.
Being from L.A., I recognized this look immediately as the “cholo” style — a style of dress originating from Mexican-Americans in Southern California who had tattoos that denoted their status as gang members. Over the years, though, the term has grown to encompass those in lowrider groups, who often share similar aspects of the style of clothing and tattoos.
I slowly approached the pair. I was curious: What were they doing here, and could they perhaps give me some tips on must-see places that young American tourists would like?
Then I heard them speak. They weren’t speaking English or Spanish, but Portuguese. It hit me after several seconds: They were Brazilian, not Mexican-American. Maybe they were Mexican Brazilian. I wasn’t sure.
But over the months, as I explored the city, I came across more of these lowriders, and found out that most of them had never been to Los Angeles. Nor knew any Angelenos. I was hooked.
As a journalist, I knew I had to cover them somehow, but a written piece with photos wouldn’t quite capture what I was seeing. Film would be the better medium.
From an anthropological perspective, I was particularly interested in how these lowriders have maintained a sense of their Brazilian identity and what it is they’re contributing to a culture from which they did not originate. During my research, I came across the blue-eyed, pale- skinned Antonio Carlos Batista Filho, who became the main character of the movie. His nickname, Alemão (“German” in Portuguese) challenged the traditional image of the cholo— and I was fascinated by his self-appointed duty to preserve Mexican-American culture. That is only just a part of the story. I later met a lowrider family behind the Lado Norte bike club, who are on a quest to use their shiny bikes as a way to show children in Sao Paulo’s favelas that there is a better life outside of the poverty and crime that surrounds them.
It was only the beginning of what I would learn.
It’s not only about the cars and the bikes. South American cho-lows add a new dimension to Chicano culture, one that I found inspiration for all of us, no matter from what background.
Phuong-Cac Nguyen – Director, South American Cho-Low