The Rise and Fall of the Brown Buffalo

57 min. Phillip Rodriguez, dist. by City Projects LLC, www.brownbuffalofilm.com. 2018. DVD ISBN 9780692988978. $250. Public performance; streaming on Kanopy.com. SOC SCI/BIOG
Director Rodriguez presents the bittersweet story of a forgotten activist in the Chicano rights movement. Oscar Zeta Acosta (b. 1935) suffered with abusive parents and racial prejudice while growing up in California. He attended law school after serving in the U.S. Air Force, but personal issues led him into the life of a drifter. Acosta met journalist Hunter S. Thompson in Aspen, CO, and the pair entered into a stormy relationship. Acosta moved to Los Angeles and became active in promoting Chicano rights. While proving a powerful provocateur, his volatile personality combined with substance abuse and mental illness created serious professional and personal problems. After falling from public favor in the 1970s, Acosta went to Mexico, where he disappeared—no one knows what happened to him. Rodriguez combines a documentary style with dramatic interludes to relate Acosta's story. Archival images, interviews, and commentary merge with actor portrayals of friends and foes.
VERDICT A riveting and thought-provoking film; highly recommended to viewers interested in civil rights and creative filmmaking.
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