Secrets and Ties
In Weaving the Past, writer/director Walter Dominguez takes us on an inspiring journey back through time as he struggles to connect with his heroic grandfather. This enlightening documentary comes across as a true labor of love. It awakened my own desire to find out more about my Irish grandmother who -- at only 14 years of age -- stowed away on a boat and came to the U. S. alone to get away from personal and political troubles at home. But I could never muster the dedication and courage shown by Dominguez in his remarkable quest that’s chronicled so lovingly in this film.
Weaving the Past: Journey of Discovery focuses on Dominguez’s yearning to learn everything he can about his grandfather Emilio, a prominent and beloved Mexican Methodist minister in Santa Paula, California. “Tata,” Emilio’s nickname, died in 1973, after serving as a popular community leader for many years. Then, three decades later, when most of the people who knew Tata were dead or dying, Dominguez decided to use his camera in his mission to uncover the secrets his grandfather hid about his early years in Mexico.
With the help of his actress wife Shelley Morrison (best known for playing Rosario, the feisty housekeeper and audience favorite on TV’s “Will and Grace”), who served as the producer of Weaving the Past, Dominguez began looking for clues in El Paso and in Mexico. This important search took eleven years, and resulted in discovering that Tata was part of the Mexican revolutionary movement, “fighting alongside some of Mexico’s most courageous citizen warriors in an effort to oust the hated dictator Porfirio Díaz.” These facts puzzled Dominguez, because it was difficult to see how someone like his peaceful, caring grandfather could have taken part in such violent situations. However, the film does an excellent job covering changes in Tata’s attitudes.
Highlights of Weaving the Past include an impressive use of archival material and fascinating re-enactments of key events in Tata’s past. Dominguez even called on some of his relatives to play roles of their ancestors – and they do so quite convincingly. Watching the emotional impact of this sentimental journey on Dominguez and his family really moved me. How I wish my strength would hold out for a journey like this -- going back in time to uncover the secrets of my brave grandmother’s early life in Ireland!
It’s encouraging to know that Dominquez and Morrison are now working on their second documentary Whitewashed Adobe: The Rise of Los Angeles, a story about the history of LA from 1850-1950. More power to them.
(For more information about this documentary, please go to the film’s official site by clicking on http://www.weavingthepast.com.)
NOTE: A gala screening of Weaving the Past: Journey of Discovery will be held May 18, 2013, to benefit the Museum of Social Justice in Los Angeles.