Film on illegal immigrants found dead in Victoria makes city debut at De Leon Symposium

Imagine being locked in a sweltering hot box, strange noises coming from all sides, and wondering whether you’ll live to see the sky again.


This was the terrifying reality for almost 100 illegal immigrants, 19 of whom died in 2003 after the tractor trailer in which they were riding was abandoned outside of Victoria. Director Dolissa Medina’s film, "19 Victoria," which gives audiences a small peak into the experiences of the 19, will make its Victoria premier on Friday as part of the 22nd Annual Martin De Leon Symposium of the Humanities at the University of Houston-Victoria.


"I was really moved by the tragedy," said Medina, adding that she wanted to respond to it artistically. The film has been shown as far away as Beirut, Paris and Columbia and has won film festival awards.


Mexican Americans in Film will be the theme of this year's symposium. The event will open at 7 p.m. in the Alcorn Auditorium in the University West building, 3007 N. Ben Wilson, with "A Night of Chicano Film." The evening will feature "19 Victoria," along with two films by presenter Carlos Calbillo. The films are "El Bebop Kid" and "Lydia Mendoza: Una Mirada." The first film is in English, while “Lydia Mendoza: Una Mirada” is in Spanish.


The symposium will continue at 9 a.m. Saturday with the following schedule:

  • 9 a.m.  Coffee
  • 9:30 a.m.  "The Mexican American Experience Through Film" by Oscar Oviedo
  • 10:45 a.m.  "Mothers, Martyrs & Mamacitas: (Re)presenting NosOtras in Film" by Domino Perez


This year’s presenters come from diverse backgrounds in film and sociology:


Carlos Cabillo has more than 40 years of broadcast experience in his field and has worked with NBC, ABC, PBS and various Spanish-language broadcast and cable companies. He also is a writer, journalist and community activist.


Oscar Oviedo is an adjunct faculty member for Lone Star College in Houston, where he teaches courses in sociology. His areas of interest include culture, race and ethnicity, social inequality, music and the mass media. He has taught several courses at the University of Houston through the Mexican American Studies program.


Domino Renee Perez is an associate professor in the Department of English and the Center for Mexican American Studies at the University of Texas at Austin, where she teaches courses in Chicana and Chicano literature, popular culture and film. She has published several articles on the U.S./Mexico transnational figure of La Llorona.


The Martin De Leon Symposium on the Humanities is a cooperative effort between UHV and the De Leon Club of Victoria to promote awareness of the Hispanic culture and history in the area.


"In 22 years, we've never duplicated a topic," said Dan Jaeckle, UHV professor and member of the 2008 Symposium Advisory Committee.


Founded in 1965, the De Leon Club of Victoria was named for the city’s founder, Martin De Leon, and is dedicated to promoting business and encouraging civic participation to improve the quality of life in Victoria.


For more information about the symposium, call Jaeckle at (361) 570-4225.

The University of Houston-Victoria, located in the heart of the Coastal Bend region since 1973 in Victoria, Texas, offers courses leading to more than 80 academic programs in the schools of Arts & Sciences; Business Administration; and Education, Health Professions & Human Development. UHV provides face-to-face classes at its Victoria campus, as well as an instructional site in Katy, Texas, and online classes that students can take from anywhere. UHV supports the American Association of State Colleges and Universities Opportunities for All initiative to increase awareness about state colleges and universities and the important role they have in providing a high-quality and accessible education to an increasingly diverse student population, as well as contributing to regional and state economic development.

Thomas Doyle 361-570-4342