As Long as I Remember: American Veteranos

Feature Documentary

As Long as I Remember: American Veteranos – 2009, 56:00 min

Producer / Director – Laura Varela


AS LONG AS I REMEMBER: AMERICAN VETERANOS examines the steep personal toll and enduring legacy of the Vietnam War on three artists from south Texas: visual artist Juan Farias, author Michael Rodriguez and actor/poet Eduardo Garza. Through the personal histories and experiences of these Chicano veterans, the film examines the role art plays in the sorting of memories, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), activism and the current conflict in Iraq. AS LONG AS I REMEMBER chronicles their upbringing in the Mexican-American community, their military service in Vietnam, and their lives after the war. Farias, Rodriguez and Garza’s poignant and powerful recollections illuminate the minority experience in the U.S. Army and U.S. Marine Corps at a time when Mexican Americans accounted for approximately 20 percent of U.S. casualties in Vietnam, despite comprising only 10 percent of the country’s population.

Funded by Humanties Texas, City of San Antonio Office of Cultural Affairs and Latino Public Broadcasting.

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At the height of the Vietnam War, Mexican Americans and Latino’s only made up 10% of the nation’s population, nevertheless they suffered 20% of the casualties in Viet Nam. The soldier/warrior tradition is a big part of Chicano culture and continues today in our current conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. This film examines the personal legacy, memories and healing of the Vietnam war and asks the question, “Does a soldier, his family and community ever really heal from the wounds of war.”

Produced and Directed by San Antonio filmmaker Laura Varela, and Produced by Fernando S. Cano, the documentary chronicles the experiences of three South Texas Vietnam-era veterans who are also artists: visual artist Juan Farías, author Michael Rodríguez and poet/performance artist Eduardo Garza. The film takes the audience through the lives of the artists and their families: growing up in the Mexican American community, their military service in Vietnam, and their lives after the war – and examines the role art plays in the sorting of sometimes painful memories.

This film is funded by Humanities Texas, Latino Public Broadcasting (part of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting) and the San Antonio Office of Cultural Affairs. Additional support provided by the Southwest Alternate Media Project, Houston, Texas. The film will have a National PBS broadcast in fall of 2010 offered through American Public Television.


Fernando S. Cano II, Co-Producer, has been involved in the film industry for almost two decades. Fernando has produced several feature films, including Painflower (16mm), EvenHand (35mm), and No Pain No Gain (35mm), and served as Production Supervisor and Production Coordinator on two PBS/ITVS-funded programs: Come & Take It Day (Mini-DV) and the Foto-Novelas II series (16mm, directed by Carlos Avila), respectively. A UT Film School graduate, Fernando brings a strong production background to any project. His production credits include feature films like SyrianaSelenaThe Newton BoysAll The Pretty Horses, and Miss Congeniality, to shorts, documentaries, music videos, commercials (for clients such as Valero Energy, Dodge, Cuervo Gold, CPS Energy, Chevy, Coors Light, Negra Modelo) and public service announcements – as producer, cinematographer, production manager, production coordinator, assistant director and various other crew positions.  As Long As I Remember: American Veteranos (a feature documentary nationally broadcast  on PBS in Fall 2010) and The Cleto Show (a hybrid sitcom fresh off its 1st Season on FOX) are two recent producing credits along with Living the American Dream (a feature documentary produced by Cevallos Brothers Productions and directed by Eva Longoria-Parker), on which  he served as line-producer.  Currently, Fernando holds a position as Senior Producer for Laszlo Rain, a San Antonio-based commercial production company specializing in ads for national and regional clients.

Anne Lewis, Associate Producer/Editor. Current projects include: Morristown, a working class look at globalization from both sides of the U.S./Mexico border, and ¡Ya Basta! about Texas labor history, and High Stakes which explores the impact of standardized testing on school children in Texas. She is a Film/Video/Multimedia Fellow of the Rockefeller Foundation and a senior lecturer in editing and documentary filmmaking at The University of Texas at Austin, and a proud member of Local 6186 CWA-NABET and the Texas State Employees Union.

Guillermina Zabala, Editor. Born in Argentina, Guillermina Zabala is a San Antonio media artist/photographer. She graduated from Columbia College-Hollywood with a Bachelor’s degree in Cinema. Currently, she is the Media Arts Director at San Antonio’s SAY Sí. In 2006, she was awarded with the NALAC Fund for the Arts Grant for her documentary project Juanito’s Lab. She served as Curator at the 28th Annual CineFestival en San Antonio and as a Curator at the 9th LA Freewaves Festival. She has directed fiction and documentary films, music videos, and video installations. Recently, Guillermina participated in the multimedia installation Exist/Resist: Metamorphosis of Destruction shown at Flight Gallery and in the Media Kunst Symposium in Blue Star Contemporary Arts Center (in both events she worked alongside artists Vaago Weiland and Laura Varela).

Lee Daniel, Director of Photography. Credits include Be Here to Love Me: A Film About Townes Van Zandt (2005), Before Sunset (2004), I Remember Me (2001), SubUrbia (1997), Before Sunrise (1995), Rift (1993) and Dazed and Confused (1993), Slacker (1991).


B.V. Olguin, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor in the Division of English, Classics, Philosophy, and Communication at the University of Texas at San Antonio. He received his M.A. and Ph.D. from Stanford University, with specialization in U.S. Latina/o and Latin American literature, film, and popular culture. He previously taught in the Department of English at Cornell University, where he offered courses in Chicana/o and Latina/o film. A native of Houston, Texas, Professor Olguin has worked with Carlos Calbillo on several documentary projects, including El Corrido de Joe Campos Torres, featuring Jesus “Chuy” Negrete, and the award-winning Chicano Week ‘87.

George Mariscal, Ph.D., is the author of Aztlán and Viet Nam: Chicano and Chicana Experiences of the War (Berkeley: U of California Press, 1999). This is the authoritative book on Chicana/o writings about the war. He also has presented widely on the complex relationship between Mexican-Americans and the U.S. military. He is currently Director of the UCSD Chicano/a and Latino/a Arts and Humanities Program.

Norma E. Cantú currently serves as Professor of English at the University of Texas at San Antonio. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She is the editor of a book series, Rio Grande/Rio Bravo: Borderlands Culture and Tradition, at Texas A&M University Press and is a member of the Board of Trustees of the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. Author of the award-winning Canícula Snapshots of a Girlhood en la Frontera, and co-editor of Chicana Traditions: Continuity and Change, she has just finished a novel, Cabañuelas and is currently working on another novel tentatively titled: Champú, or Hair Matters, and an ethnography of the Matachines de la Santa Cruz, a religious dance drama from Laredo, Texas.

Rodolfo Rosales, Ph.D., is Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science at UTSA, is the author of The Illusion of Inclusion: The Untold Story of San Antonio Politics (U of Texas Press, 2000). This book is an authoritative treatment of Mexican-American political life, and includes a portrait of the dismal economic context from which many San Antonio Mexican-American military recruits are drawn. He is also a veteran of the U.S. Army who served after the Korean War and before the war in Vietnam.

Beverly Sanchez-Padilla, Evaluator and Advisor on Educational Materials. A native New Mexican, she is a multidisciplinary artist in film/video/theater/poetry and has been a reporter/photographer/producer for KOB-TV-NBC, KOAT-TV-ABC and KNME-TV-PBS in Albuquerque as well as San Antonio. Her films/videos include El Corrido de Juan Chacon distributed by Latin American Archives and de mujer a mujer, distributed by Women Make Movies and most recently El Corrido de Emma Tenayuca. She served as artist-in-residence for the San Antonio Independent School District from 1992-99 where she taught media production and creative writing to students from elementary school through high school. She has a BA from the University of New Mexico, a certificate from the Anthropology Film Center in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and is a post-graduate fellow from the Department of Urban Studies and Planning at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Presently she is teaching theater and video at Palo Alto College – International Programs in San Antonio.

Federico Chavez Blanco, composer, is a San Antonio/Austin TX based composer with over two decades of experience.  His musical work can be heard in renowned film festivals worldwide and on the air on Networks such as PBS, Univision, Telemundo, Televisa, Galavision, Azteca America.  He’s recently been warded Best Composer in the 2008 West Hollywood International Film festival for “Forgiveness,” a story written by Allan Knee (Finding Neverland) and by Polish award winning director Mariusz Kotowski, and the short “Put it in a Box” for the Cannes Film Festival for award winning director Rodrigo Garcia.

Fiscal Sponsorship Provided by:

Southwest Alternate Media Project

The Esperanza Center

Funding provided by:

Latino Public Broadcasting

American Public Television

City of San Antonio Office of Cultural Affairs

Humanities Texas

The Law Offices of Carlos Uresti

Michael W. Rodriguez

Writer, Michael W. Rodriguez is featured in the documentary. | Photo by LA Parker.

Writer, Michael W. Rodriguez is featured in the documentary. | Photo by LA Parker.

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