TOPEKA -- Via Dolorosa Films would like to celebrate the completion of the short documentary “Mariachi Estrella” by having a community screening on February 21st at 3:00pm and 5:00pm at the Brown V. Board of Education National Historic Site. Each screening will be followed by live music and a question and answer session with participants. Seating is limited and RSVP is required by calling 354-4273.
In the 1970’s, seven women from the church choir of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Topeka, joined together to form one of the first all female mariachi groups in the country. Teresa Cuevas, Connie Alcala, Isabel Gonzalez, Rachel Galvan Sangalang, Dolores Galvan, Dolores Carmona and Linda Scurlock formed the group “Mariachi Estrella de Topeka” after integrating mariachi music into their church choir.
These pioneering women had to quickly learn and practice all of the necessary instruments of a musical genre in which sheet music was hard to come by. Their hard work and dedication soon paid off as Mariachi Estrella played venues across Kansas and turned the tables on a male dominated style of music.
In 1981, this groundbreaking band was about to perform at the Kansas City Hyatt Regency Hotel when a skywalk collapsed, killing four of the seven band members, as well as over a hundred others.
Produced by Justicia Inc., a local non-profit entity that promotes Hispanic arts and heritage, and funded from a grant from the Kansas Humanities Council’s “Kansans Tell Their Stories” program, the short documentary was produced and directed by filmmakers Peter Jasso and Marlo Angell and crewed by local production companies, Hometown Collaborations and Integrated Media Group.
With interviews from surviving band members Teresa Cuevas and Isabel Gonzalez, as well as relatives such as Kliph Scurlock (Drummer for Grammy Award winning band The Flaming Lips), the documentary takes an inside look at the personal struggles and triumphs of Mariachi Estrella and the lasting impact the band has had on the lives of those its music has touched.
The film has received tremendous support from the community and local media outlets including WIBW, KTWU and the Topeka Capital-Journal.