In our fast-paced, chaotic world, it is difficult (if not impossible) to imagine the lives of those who came before us, even just two generations ago. And yet, more than ever, each of us still has a yearning to connect with the past, to better understand those who came before us and made us who we are.
That is the journey undertaken by filmmaker Walter Dominguez in the extraordinary documentary “Weaving the Past: Journey of Discovery.” As a young man, Dominguez was inspired by his grandfather, Emilio, known as “Tata,” who was one of the most prominent and beloved Mexican Methodist ministers in idyllic Santa Paula in rural Southern California. A community leader who was known for his generous heart and kind spirit, Tata died in 1973. Three decades later, with the generation that knew Tata best quickly dying away, Dominguez picked up his camera to uncover the long-hidden secrets of Tata’s earliest years.
With his wife, producer(an actress known for her role as Rosario on the long-running sitcom “Will and Grace”), Dominguez took eleven years to trace the scant clues of Tata’s past, through the border town of El Paso, to the rural mountains of turn-of-the-century Mexico. It turns out 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. With each new revelation comes a new mystery – and with each mystery, the remarkable achievements of Tata’s later years become all the more remarkable. How can a man so beloved for his peaceful and beneficent nature have a past so dominated by poverty, violence, and bloodshed?
Featuring painfully researched archival material, and lovingly constructed re-enactments of past events (featuring many of Dominguez’s younger relatives playing the parts of their ancestors), “Weaving the Past” is a remarkable odyssey into a painful past that offers comfort and promise for a better future.
Morrison, now 76, says documentary filmmaking awakened her creative process. The couple who have been married almost 40 years are already at work on their second documentary “Whitewashed Adobe: The Rise of Los Angeles,” a story about the history of LA from 1850-1950. (By the way, Morrison is Sephardic and grew up speaking Ladino.)
On May 18th they will host a benefit gala screening of “Weaving the Past” to benefit the Museum of Social Justice located on historic Olvera Street in Los Angeles where they both sit on the Board.