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September 30, 2019October 11, 2019

KCET–THE RISE AND FALL OF THE BROWN BUFFALO is now streaming on KCET through October 11, 2019. The film is an innovative documentary about the life of radical Chicano lawyer, author and countercultural icon Oscar Zeta Acosta — the basis for the character Dr. Gonzo in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, written by his friend, legendary journalist-provocateur Hunter S. Thompson.

Link to watch: https://www.kcet.org/shows/the-rise-and-fall-of-the-brown-buffalo/episodes/the-rise-and-fall-of-the-brown-buffalo

Acosta’s powerful literary voice, brash courtroom style and notorious revolutionary antics made him a revered figure within the Chicano movement, and offered one of the most brazen, frontal assaults on white supremacy seen at the time. Yet in hindsight, Acosta is more known as Thompson’s bumbling Samoan sidekick in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas than for his own work exposing racial bias, hypocrisy, and repression within the California justice system.

This film sets out to right this historical wrong, giving Acosta his due place as an imperfect, but larger-than-life figure in American history. Channeling the spirit of the psychedelic 60s and the joyful irreverence of Gonzo journalism, the film also shows Acosta’s personal and creative evolution play out against the backdrop of a society in turmoil. From his origins in segregated rural California, to his stint as a Baptist missionary in Panama, his radicalization in the Chicano movement of the 60s, to his mysterious disappearance in Mexico in 1974, director Phillip Rodriguez offers us a complex figure emblematic of a generation. Relevant now more than ever, this untold story probes issues of racial identity, criminal justice, and media representation, while revealing the personal story of a troubled and brilliant man coming to terms with his identity and finding meaning in the struggles of his people.

Major funding for THE RISE AND FALL OF THE BROWN BUFFALO provided by The Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Additional funding provided by Latino Public Broadcasting and California Humanities. The film is produced by Rodriguez’s Los Angeles-based production company, City Projects, LLC.

This film was supported by California Humanities through the California Documentary Project Grant.