It takes a special kind of director to channel the emotions, heritage and visual style of SoCal’s car culture into a single film. And Peruvian-born Ricardo de Montreuil has done it masterfully; with his upcoming indie release, Lowriders. Featuring a cast that includes Eva Longoria, Theo Rossi, Melissa Benoist and Oscar-nominee Demián Bichir, it’s a moving family drama set against the colorful backdrop of East L.A. Lowriders has already received rave reviews on the festival circuit and is finally set to make its theatrical debut this month. We had the chance to talk with Ricardo about the passion behind this project and how he was able to translate an important Latino movement to the silver screen.
‘LL: Having been born and raised in Peru, I imagine you weren’t directly exposed to the ‘Lowrider’ culture growing up. What initially attracted you to this project?
RDM: Yes, it’s a very interesting story. I left Peru for the states when I was 18 to study film. I actually went to school in Georgia, then lived in areas like Rhode Island and Miami. It was only when I arrived in California that I learned about this exciting Mexican subculture happening in East L.A. I was attracted to the cultural element of lowriding and the artistry behind it. And I was also curious as to why Hollywood never captured this side of the city. Nobody was showing this exciting world. East L.A. movies always seemed to involve gangs, drugs and crime. So this became an amazing opportunity for people to discover the art and passion happening within this community.
‘LL: You were also able to assemble an amazing cast. Can you discuss what it was like to work with this diverse group of actors?
RDM: The producers and I really wanted to make sure this film was authentic and to get the best actors we could for the roles. Demián is brilliant, of course, and we felt very lucky to have him on board. Eva is so smart and professional. She is also very passionate about telling stories about Latinos. I had met her on a previous film project and knew immediately she had the qualities to play this important maternal figure in the film. Theo was another amazing addition. When we first met him, we could see how passionate he was about the movie. It connected with him on a personal level and he brought a nice balance of intensity and humanity to the role.
‘LL: There are so many layers to the characters and plot of this movie. Is there any one thing you’d want the audience to walk away with after watching Lowriders?
RDM: Ultimately, Lowriders is a movie about family and tradition. I like to think of it as a coming-of-age film. One that shows the journey of a young man discovering who he truly is. When you’re young you may want to rebel, but when you grow older you realize that the most valuable thing you have is your heritage. I think it’s a very universal story.
‘LL: Clearly you have many more stories to tell. Do you anticipate more projects that will focus on the Latino community?
RDM: Oh yes, but in entirely different settings. I’m actually a big fan of comic books and I have been working on a sci-fi movie that will have a very diverse cast. That is something I want reflected in all of my future films. I know audiences appreciate that and I plan to keep it going for a long time to come.
Lowriders opens May 12th. For a sneak peak at Ricardo’s Lowriders project peep the clip below.