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Awards: Trini Lopez Documentary Wins Special Jury Award at the American Documentary and Animation Film Festival

Special Jury Award Winner
The life of Trini Lopez, groundbreaking Mexican American recording artist, guitarist and actor, is explored in the film My Name Is Lopez. The feature length documentary had its world premiere at the opening night gala of the 2021 American Documentary and Animation Film Festival (AmDocs2021) in Palm Springs, CA last month. It has just been announced that My Name Is Lopez is the recipient of the festival’s Special Jury Award, winning as Best U.S. Documentary.

Teddy Grouya, AmDocs Founder and Director commented, “There were a wide variety of films for our judges to choose from in the National Feature Category at the 10th Annual American Documentary And Animation Film Festival. The judges, who came from Spain, Czech Republic and Italy, were unanimous in picking one of their favorites among the breadth of subjects and so chose My Name Is Lopez to receive the Special Jury Award. Such an acknowledgement by judges from outside of the U.S. gives this new work by the Ebersole-Hughes Company credibility and should garner not only more festival screenings but sales beyond the domestic market.”

The film, directed by P. David Ebersole and Todd Hughes (House of Cardin; Mansfield 66/67; Dear Mom, Love Cher), was produced by Joan and Gary Gand whose Gand Band backed Lopez during the latter part of his life in Palm Springs, his adopted hometown. The Gand Band, in fact, performed at the AmDocs gala at Mary Pickford Drive-In in Palm Springs where the film premiered with all three AmDocs screenings of My Name Is Lopez selling out.

Notes P. David Ebersole, “The best thing for us about getting such a strong reception for My Name Is Lopez is that it helps for Trini’s life story to get seen by more people. He is so important and his spirit burns so brightly in the movie. For me, that is the whole point and the reason we made the documentary: we want Trini’s legacy to live on.”
Todd Hughes commented, "My Name Is Lopez is our third documentary to screen at AmDocs, and our first to be made and set in the Coachella Valley. Trini was a not only an international superstar, but also a was a local hero so to be recognized in this context is really special.”

The film’s producers Joan and Gary Gand, stated, "This award tells us that we struck the right chord with fans worldwide."

My Name is Lopez showcases never-before-seen archival performance footage of the singer whose biggest hits including “If I Had A Hammer,” “Lemon Tree,” “La Bamba,” “Michael (Row Your Boat Ashore)” melded folk music with rock and Latin elements, paving the way for the folk-rock movement of the 1960s. Ebersole and Hughes conducted a series of extensive interviews with Lopez, significant portions of which are seen in the film, a fortuitous circumstance in light of his tragically succumbing to COVID-19 this past summer at the age of 83.

My Name Is Lopez features new interviews with fellow Texan and ZZ Top founder Billy F Gibbons, Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters, Dionne Warwick, NFL legend Jim Brown, who is portrayed in the current hit film One Night In Miami, as well as actor Donald Sutherland, singer Tony Orlando and others. The film includes excerpts from Trini’s last ever live concert performance with Billy Gibbons lending a musical hand and backing from The Gand Band. The concert was introduced with a candid on-stage Q&A hosted by Vintage LA and Spectrum TV’s Alison Martino that is also part of My Name Is Lopez.

The first son of undocumented Mexican immigrants, Trinidad Lopez III grew up in Little Mexico, a black and Mexican ghetto in Dallas, TX. Early in life he picked up a $12 guitar and started on the path that would lead him to international stardom. Undaunted by the endemic prejudice of the time, Trini Lopez refused to change his name to “pass” and landed at PJ’s, a hip Hollywood nightery where word spread of his phenomenal talent. Ultimately, Frank Sinatra, a PJ’s regular, was so taken with Trini’s crowd-pleasing abilities that he signed him on the spot to Reprise Records, his fledgling record label.

In 1963 Reprise released the live album Trini Lopez at PJ’s that included a rocking adaptation of Pete Seger’s folk song "If I Had a Hammer.” The “Hammer” single reached #1 on record charts in 36 countries bringing stardom to the kid from the Dallas barrio who was that year’s Best New Artist Grammy winner.

Trini Lopez went on to score 13 U.S. chart singles and became one of the country's top nightclub performers, taking folk music electric a year before Bob Dylan plugged in. Trini performed for a month in Paris on a bill with the Beatles and regularly headlined in Las Vegas, where performers of color were not allowed to sit and drink in the very places they played. An honorary member of the Rat Pack during a time of insidious racism in America, he shared a complicated relationship with Sinatra, his lifelong friend and mentor. Sinatra secured him a costarring role in the WWII adventure film The Dirty Dozen. The big break into acting was nipped in the bud when Sinatra used his influence to have Trini’s character “killed off” in the second act to get him back on the concert circuit to rescue his failing record label.