On Tuesday, April 10th, 7pm, at UCSB’s Pollock Theater, KCSB-FM’s “Popped Culture” Film Series presents a preview screening of Radio Bandido, a documentary investigating the 1994 death of Oscar “Bandido” Gomez, a Chicano radio activist from the University of California, Davis whose body was found in the waters alongside the UC Santa Barbara campus. Director Pepe Urquijo will be on hand for a post-screening Q&A.
Local officials dubbed it an accident, but Radio Bandido explores unanswered questions and unexplained conclusions that have left many people affected by Gomez’s passing completely unsatisfied and aching for justice. This documentary attempts not only to make clear the events that immediately preceded Oscar’s death, but also to shed light on his journey from a childhood in Baldwin Park to the tragic bluffs of Isla Vista/UCSB.
Radio Bandido tells the story of a citizen journalist who roamed California inspired by stories of the Golden State’s social bandits of the late 19th Century. A champion of global human rights, Oscar Gomez exposed audiences to struggles against injustice on his KDVS radio program, and gained many loyal listeners (KDVS-FM is part of the UC Radio Network and therefore a sister-station of KCSB). A music show with origins during the Chicano Movement of the early-1970s, “La Onda Chicana” changed during the 1990s with Gomez at the helm, becoming an educational and empowering program exemplifying the values of “ritmo y resistencia” (rhythm and resistance). Inspired by both his collegiate studies and the political environment of the 1990s, “Bandido” was born.
During politically-charged times, Gomez took a message of anti-racism and social justice to larger audiences through “La Onda Chicana,” political demonstrations, and statewide networking. His typical weekend could include: attending a protest along the San Diego/Tijuana border, buying Oldies and Mexican music in East LA, waking up in San Francisco to cover another protest, and a return to Davis for his Sunday evening program and classes.
Oscar Gomez’s life ended under mysterious circumstances during a November visit to UCSB and Isla Vista, with his body eerily turning up on the east side of campus, near Goleta Beach. Unexplained blunt-force head trauma caused concerns that Gomez was the victim of foul play, but cries of outrage couldn’t keep the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department from controversially closing the case. An attempt to create healing, Radio Bandido brings home the significance of the voice we all lost.
Director Pepe Urquijo, a friend of Gomez during his KDVS days, is an MFA from the New York City School of Visual Arts Social Documentary Film Program, a Rockefeller Media Arts fellow, and documentarian with extensive experience in the San Francisco Bay Area. Radio Bandido is the result of six years of research, mixing archival materials, such as “La Onda Chicana” segments, photos, and home movies, with interviews of the activist’s friends, family, and others.
The post-screening Q&A will also feature the input of other guests who are connected to the case. Donations will also be collected to assist completion of Urquijo’s work. This event is free and open to the public, but seating is limited, so reserved tickets must be claimed online here.
The Pollock Theater is on Ocean Road near the UCSB central bus loop. For directions and parking information: CLICK HERE.
KCSB’s “Popped Culture: Radio Goes to the Movies” is a new series of films that feature radio as a key element – and is part of KCSB’s Golden Anniversary Season: Celebrating 50 Years of People-Powered Radio.
Sponsors of this Radio Bandido preview include UCSB’s Carsey-Wolf Center and Center for the Interdisciplinary Study of Music (CISM).