Pioneer High School Custodian’s Documentary on Lowrider Culture to Screen at California Museum
Whittier, CA – Martin Torrez, a maintenance custodian at Pioneer High School, has created and produced an award-winning documentary titled “The Great American Lowrider Tradition.” This documentary, which shines a light on the history and impact of lowrider culture, will be screened at the California Museum as part of their Fall programming.
Scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 21, the screening will be followed by a Q&A session with Torrez and two documentary subjects: Oscar Ruelas, co-founder of Duke’s So. Cal, one of the oldest lowrider clubs in the world, and Little Willie G., the lead singer of Thee Midniters, a legendary Chicano band.
This groundbreaking screening marks the first time a film exploring American car culture will be shown at the museum, emphasizing the significance of lowrider culture and the challenges enthusiasts faced due to racial discrimination. The documentary aims to tell the untold stories of these passionate individuals and their celebration of Chicano heritage.
Torrez expressed his excitement and gratitude, stating that having his documentary screened at the state capital feels like winning an Academy Award. He also highlighted the global celebration of lowrider culture while acknowledging the existing laws in California that ban these cars and discredit their traditions. Torrez believes that screening the documentary at the California Museum is a crucial step towards challenging these laws.
“The Great American Lowrider Tradition” has already gained recognition and won the Breaking Barriers Award at the Portland Film Festival in 2021, as well as the Audience Favorite Award at the Downtown Los Angeles (DTLA) Film Festival in 2022, where it sold out in record time. Despite the film’s success, Torrez remains dedicated to his role as a custodian at Pioneer High School and his commitment to the Whittier Union community.
The documentary sheds light on lowriders as a unique American culture and art form, showcasing the perspectives and experiences of those who have played a significant role in this lifestyle. With meticulous research, Torrez aims to give credit to lowrider pioneers and challenge negative media perceptions, while also advocating for the repeal of anti-cruising laws.
Torrez’s dedication to the project is evident as he personally handled every aspect of the documentary, including research, writing, filming, editing, narration, and even composing some of the music on the soundtrack. Inspired by his 9-year-old son, Torrez felt compelled to tell the story of car culture enthusiasts and give them the recognition they deserve.
Superintendent Dr. Monica Oviedo commended Torrez on his passion and determination to reclaim the narrative surrounding lowrider culture. She stated that his work has made him a role model and an inspiration to the community.
For those interested in learning more about the documentary, visit lowriderdocumentary.org.