Skip to Content

The Head of Joaquin Murrieta

John J. Valadez Photograph

John J. Valadez will be screening his latest documentary which chronicles the director’s decade long search for the remains of Joaquin Murrieta, a legendary Mexican outlaw who blazed a trial of revenge and rebellion following the theft of his land, and the rape and murder of his wife.  In the summer of 1853 he was killed by bounty hunters who put his head in a jar and displayed it across California, charging people a dollar to see their trophy.

He is a Peabody Award winning filmmaker who has been writing directed and produced nationally broadcast documentary films for PBS for the past 18 years.  His films have tackled such diverse subjects as the false imprisonment of a leader of the Black Panther Party, Latino poets in New York City, gang kids in Chicago, segregation in America’s schools, the evolution of Chicano music, the struggle for Latino civil rights, and the genocide of Native Americans in the Southwest.

They have garnered top prizes at film festivals from San Francisco to Mumbai, have been broadcast across the United States, and Europe, and have been featured at major museums and cultural institutions - places like The Museum of Modern Art in New York City, The National Gallery of Art in Washington, Lincoln Center, and the Hirschhorn Museum.

John grew up in Seattle, taught photography in India, studied filmmaking at New York University and today is a professor at Michigan State University where he teaches documentary filmmaking.