Mi Raza: Portrait of a Family by Nicole Marroquin

Mi Raza: Portrait of a Family is a documentary film about a working class Mexican-American family dealing with the stresses of maintaining their cultural heritage in the face of the dominant Anglo society.

This 1973  film by Susan Stechnij provides essential context for anyone interested in Pilsen and the surrounding, Casa Aztlan, schools or the incidents at Froebel, Harrison and the fight for Benito Juarez High School.  At the center is Lola Navarro and her children. (Chuy Garcia and Rudy Lozano Sr. say introduced them to activism. We should all know her name! More on Lola Navarro to come.) Read more about this film and the filmmaker here on the Chicago Film Archive website! 

Stechnij, who was a member of MARCH (Movimiento Artisitico de la Raza Chicano) wrote a masters thesis after completing the film, and it details the community editing process, which took place at the Casa Aztlan.  This is exactly what it sounds like, and if you are interested in community responsive cultural production and collaboration, check it out. 

Stecjnij thesis call number

Stechnij and her partner Santiago Boiton were activists, and Boiton can be seen shouting down members of the Chicago Board of Education in the film. Their names also appear in I found Susan on FB and reached out to her, and she responded!  

With any film editing process, a lot of the footage did not make it into the film, but this film was edited by community consensus, which makes viewing the outtakes even richer. The amazing people at the Chicago Film Archives have preserved AND digitized 90 minutes of the silent outtakes. I presented all of the outtakes for 2 months during my residency at the Chicago Cultural Center in 2017. The outtakes feature Stechnij herself, but there are also important historical events like a UFW protest at A&P on Kedzie, and some sweet moments with Rudy Lozano and Lola Navarro with kids hanging around in front of the Casa Aztlan.  Major thanks to Brian Bielak at CFA for his expertise and patience.