Linda and The Mockingbirds pairs acclaimed musician Linda Ronstadt with Los Cenzontles (“mockingbirds” in the Nahuatl language), a band and music academy for young people in the San Francisco Bay Area. In this documentary by award-winning director and producer James Keach, Ronstadt, musician Jackson Browne, and a busload of Cenzontles journey to the little town of Banámichi in Sonora, Mexico, where Ronstadt’s grandfather was born.
The film details Ronstadt’s long friendship with Eugene Rodriguez, a third-generation Mexican-American and musician who founded Los Cenzontles thirty years prior to reconnect working-class kids with the dignity and beauty of their ancestral music and culture. Along the way, the pounding feet of zapateado dancers, the strumming of jarana and guitar, the clacking buzz of the quijada, a donkey jawbone, and a chorus of soulful voices celebrate pride and self-knowledge with a solid, rootsy groove. “This is not Latin-ish ‘Dorito music,’ Ronstadt says of the film’s musical backbone. ‘This is Mexican music.’ “
Linda and the Mockingbirds is a song-soaked, foot-stomping trip straight to the heart of what it means to be Mexican—and American—and the complex joy of being both at the same time. Preceding the film is Good Morning Aztlan, a short film by Les Blank and Maureen Gosling featuring Los Cenzontles and Los Lobos performing Los Lobos’ 2002 song of the same name.
Los Cenzontles is a grassroots artist-driven organization committed to amplifying the roots of Mexican culture through classes, events, media, and performances. Founded in San Pablo, CA in 1994 by musician and educator Eugene Rodriguez, Los Cenzontles provides the local community with a family-friendly setting for traditional arts education and cultural events. The Los Cenzontles Academy connects students of all ages with maestros of traditional Mexican genres instilling a sense of cultural pride and participation in living traditions. Its full calendar of events features performances by students, its own professional touring group, Los Cenzontles, and well-known world musicians and visiting artists. Los Cenzontles documents this journey of continuing the long tradition of authentic Mexican art with CDs and DVDs to share with the world and future generations.
The Roxie Theater, a San Francisco landmark in the Mission District that reopens in May 2021, brings people together to meet and connect through distinctive cinematic experiences. Guided by the passionate belief that engaging with a movie doesn’t end with the credits, the Roxie invites filmmakers, curators, entertainers and educators to interact with our audiences. The Roxie provides inspiration and opportunity for the next generation and serves as a forum for the independent film community reflecting the spirit of the diverse Bay Area population.
Runtime: 60 minutes
Country: United States
Language: English, Spanish w/ English subtitles
Director: James Keach
Producer: Alex Exline, James Keach
Editor: Alexandra Komisaruk, Heidi Scharfe
Cinematographer: Armando Aparicio, Ian Coad, David Zlutnick
Music: Julian Raymond, Bennett Salvay
Cast: Jackson Browne, Los Cenzontles, Eugene Rodriguez, Linda Ronstadt
Print Source: Los Cenzontles, PCH Films
This screening of Linda and the Mockingbirds is co-produced by Los Cenzontles Cultural Arts Academy, McEvoy Foundation for the Arts and the Roxie Theater in conjunction with the exhibition Next to You at McEvoy Arts.