Junior Gonzalez: I am a first generation Salvadoran-American from the Bay Area in California. My sister and I grew up with a single parent mother at an early age. My parents migrated here to the states in the late 70's from El Salvador looking for a better way of life. I learned my hard-working habits and how to hustle at an early age...I guess you can say I learned that from my mother. At that time my mom was on her own with little help and she didn't even know English. It was tough times growing-up with a single parent because we lived poor and we struggled. But my mother's heart and soul never gave up on faith. From my mother, I learned to always stay positive, reach for the stars, and never give up on a dream. She is a big part of who I am today. One of my accomplishments that I am very proud of and I really owe it to my mother is when I received a M.F.A from Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. That is where I got my masters in Television. She really pushed me to go chase what I love... movies.
SC: Can you tell us a bit about Salvadoran hip-hop history? And where do you see Salvadoran hip-hop going?
Junior: As far as the history of Salvadoran Hip-Hop...well I just learned it from making my documentary. From my understanding, the group Reyes Del Bajo Mundo (RDBM) who are based in New York are considered to be the pioneers of Salvi Hip-hop (Salvi is the new word that the community is using now). When RDBM migrated to the states in the 80's they became part of the explosion of hip-hop when it first started in New York. They were going back and forth to their homeland and New York to help bring identity to the culture through their music.
Salvi Hip-Hop is growing because the urban culture within the community is growing. I see more youngsters getting into hip-hop because it gives a voice to the "voiceless." And if you understand the history of Hip-Hop, the music has always been about speaking your mind and talking about social issues. The music has obviously grown and it now has different types of messages, but the root of Hip-Hop has always been about representing the people and giving that "voice."
SC: Why did you feel compelled to make this movie?
Junior: My main reason for making my documentary is because there are not too many films about today’s Central Americans issues and their American experience. The Central American culture is a big community here in the states, especially the Salvadoran culture. And whenever people do hear about the culture, it is always negative. The two obvious things that come-up about the culture is the war and the gang violence. Our culture and other Central Americans’ has taken a big blow because of the negativity. For those people outside of the culture, they only hear and learn about the violence...and that is not always the case. We (Central Americans) are more than that...we are artists, scholars, activists, doctors and so forth. Therefore, I wanted to educate and give a genuine perspective about where I am from because most movies that get released are always about the violence. I wanted to make a film where the newer generation can grow from because when I was growing up there was nothing to feel inspired about. I want the community to grow in the right direction and feel proud of where they come from. But more importantly, I wanted to make something positive.
SC: How did you make this movie happen in terms of filming, costs and production?
Junior: I was rejected by a lot of programs that I applied for in order to get some financing...that didn't work out. And when I tried to find financing from a third party...that didn't work either. So it was very tough. I started the project around 2005/6, not filming, but I was more trying to figure out how to tell my story. At that time, I was doing a lot of researching, I was trying to find the right people to interview, and I was trying to see what kind of personal resource I can use. To make my story short, I had no help or money. Time was passing and there was a point where the film was not going to happen. I remained patient and I figured it out! I saved money over the grueling years and did it my way. I can say this is a real "independent film" where I solely financed it a 100%. And plus, I called in some favors that I am going to owe later.
SC: In what stage is the movie currently? I see that you're having premieres. Is it finished? If so, when and how will you release it to the general public?
Junior: After all the years and energy, I am happy to say the film is finally done and ready to rock-n'-roll. I've been grateful that "Words of Revolution" has been entering film festivals and just recently it participated in a program, "Doing your Doc," at NALIP's Latino Media Summit in Los Angeles. The film is slowly but surely finding the audience. I will be exploring international film festivals to see what kind of response I get. As far as releasing the film to the public...well I am also in the process of finding distribution. It is a tough process, but I will hopefully find a proper home (distribution company) for my film soon.
SC: Who are you favorite MCs? Salvadoran and non-Salvadoran.
Junior: To be honest the MCs that are featured in my film are a huge reason why I wanted to make the film. Reyes Del Bajo Mundo, Santos, and Fenomedon made me a fan of Spanish Hip-Hop. I loved what they were about and what they were preaching through their music. There are a lot of talented Salvi artists' out there, but I had a special connection with the guys I mentioned. Before that, I was only listening to American Hip-Hop.
As mentioned, I grew-up with American Hip-Hop. There are too many Hip-Hop artist to mention, but from top of my head, Nas, Tupac, Outkast, E-40, Guru, Eminem, and A Tribe Called Quest are some of my favorites.
SC: Anything else that you want to touch on?
Junior: I hope my film can open doors for future Central American films about the American experience. I also hope to encourage audiences to eliminate cultural stereotypes and embrace diversity in America.
For more information on words of revolution visit their website www.wordsofrevolution.com and like their Facebook page here.