Director of SF State’s Latinx Student Center Emmanuel Padilla (left), Backstreet to the American Dream filmmaker Patricia Nazario (center), and Cinema professor Rafael Flores (right) speak during a panel on the documentary in McKenna Theater on Oct. 11, 2022. (Jesus Arriaga for Golden Gate Xpress) (Jesus Arriaga)
Director of SF State’s Latinx Student Center Emmanuel Padilla (left), Backstreet to the American Dream filmmaker Patricia Nazario (center), and Cinema professor Rafael Flores (right) speak during a panel on the documentary in McKenna Theater on Oct. 11, 2022. (Jesus Arriaga for Golden Gate Xpress)

Jesus Arriaga

Award-winning filmmaker screens documentary “Backstreet to the American Dream” at SF State

The Latinx Student Center hosted an event about the experiences of American entrepreneurs and Mexican immigrants in the food truck industry.

October 12, 2022

Filmmaker Patricia Nazario screened her documentary “Backstreet to the American Dream” Tuesday at McKenna Theater, which highlighted the experiences of American entrepreneurs and Mexican immigrants in the food truck industry.

Former President of the Latinx Film Club Daniel Tinajero kicked off the event with a discussion of how Latino students should be better represented in the film industry.

After, Nazario took the stage to provide a brief background on her documentary.

The film featured an in-depth look into the lives of Latino food truck owners in Los Angeles and the difficulties many of them faced immigrating to the United States to start a business.

“I grew up in a working-class, blue-collar neighborhood, and food trucks were a big part of the community growing up in my Puerto Rican family,” Nazario said.

Nazario started her career in local TV news as a production assistant and became an international journalist who earned 18 awards and honors.

According to Nazario, the documentary was almost entirely self-funded and took over a decade to make.

“I was a one-man band,” Nazario said. “I was on a shoestring budget. I quit my job and bought all of the camera equipment myself.”

After the screening, Tinajero introduced the following panelists for a Q&A: SF State associate professor of Journalism Ana Lourdes Cárdenas, SF State assistant professor of Cinema Rafael Flores, inaugural director of SF State’s Latinx Student Center Emmanuel Padilla and Nazario.

“I wanted to let these food truck owners tell their own stories,” Nazario said. “So many are just trying to make enough money to send to their families in their home countries.”

Released in 2021, the film has won two awards so far: the Audience Award for Best Documentary Feature and the Best Food Film Award at the San Antonio Film Festival.

“Food trucks are something started by Hispanic people, and are a means for survival for many involved in it,” Flores said.

After the Q&A, attendees were treated to a taco truck parked outside of the Liberal and Creative Arts Building.

“The documentary touched me personally,” said SF State student Marissa Vargas. “It talked about where I’m from, Riverside, and even made me tear up a bit.”

Nazario mingled with the students and faculty out front as everyone enjoyed their tacos.

“It feels like there are a lot of injustices towards the Chicano community and needs to be addressed heavily,” said student Christopher Jones. “Other food trucks are being more naturalized, while the [Latino] food trucks are not.”

This was Nazario’s first time speaking at SF State and she said was proud of the reception she received from students.

“It was really cool highlighting the movement of the Chicano community to LA,” said student Isabella Barboza. “She [Nazario] did a great job of relating the history of the food back to southern Mexico.”

Nazario hopes to return to SF State to screen any future projects she produces.

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About the Contributors
Photo of David Blakeley
David Blakeley, Staff Reporter
David Blakeley (he/him) is a reporter for Golden Gate Xpress. He is majoring in journalism and minoring in labor studies. He was born in Orange County, California and has lived in San Francisco since 2013. David enjoys crime novels, drawing, skateboarding and screenwriting.
Photo of Jesus Arriaga
Jesus Arriaga, Contributor
Jesus Arriaga (he/him) is a freelance photojournalist for Golden Gate Xpress. He is majoring in journalism and minoring in German. He was born in Garden Grove, California, and has lived in San Francisco since 2022. In his free time, Jesus enjoys cooking new recipes, reading, traveling and exploring.

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