'La Bamba' director Luis Valdez discusses enduring legacy of the movie and Ritchie Valens

Director Luis Valdez talks about his movie "La Bamba" being added to the Criterion Collection, the film being preserved for the future and Ritchie Valens's legacy as an early Chicano rock 'n' roll star.

Video Transcript

KEVIN POLOWY: Congrats on the new Criterion release. Criterion, of course, some of the most trusted tastemakers in film. You know, what does getting the Criterion stamp mean to you? Is this a pretty special notch on the belt?

LUIS VALDEZ: Well, I think it is. What's important with respect to the film is that the Criterion Collection is all about preservation. They preserve films from the past, and there have been thousands. Hundreds of thousands, actually, probably since the movies began.

But only a few get remembered. Only a few get preserved, either technically or in the memory banks. And this is like a memory bank. This is like the best memory bank there is because you're in good company if you can get into the Criterion Collection.

And it's all about great film, in so many different ways. And I'm very proud of the fact that our story about Ritchie was able to make it to this collection. It makes me confident that the film will be preserved into the future, however long that lasts, and that new generations will encounter the film then because it is part of the Criterion Collection. It is an honor, quite frankly, for filmmakers to have this.

KEVIN POLOWY: And of course. It became a major success. I mean, we're still talking about it, all these years later. How do you look at its legacy culturally? I mean, do you think it changed the game? Do you think because of its success, it opened a lot of doors for Chicanos or Latinos in Hollywood?

LUIS VALDEZ: I think he's the godfather of Chicano rock and roll. Yeah, absolutely. And not just in the States. I think Latino rock and roll, right? All over the world, all over Latin America, can trace their roots back to Ritchie's contribution.

KEVIN POLOWY: Well, you, yourself, have left quite a legacy also. It's right there on the top of your Wikipedia page. I mean, what does it mean to you to be called the father of Chicano theater and film?

LUIS VALDEZ: Well, you know, somebody had to do it. I mean, I don't want to blow my own horn in that sense, but you've got to understand what a vacuum existed, in theater and in film.