Break of Dawn

Director: Isaac Artenstein
Screenwriters: Isaac Artenstein

Institute History


Break of Dawn has the “stuff” of which great cinema is made: a rich, compelling and true story, fascinating characters, first-rate acting and wonderful production values. Like The Ballad of Gregorio Cortez and El Norte, it’s about the mixing of realities, how Chicano culture flourished in the shadow of Southern California society prior to World War II. It’s about two languages and two cultures.

Break of Dawn chronicles the rise and fall of Pedro Gonzales, the first Hispanic radio host in California during the Depression. His popular early-morning show soon corners the Spanish language and advertising market; Gonzalez becomes a valuable political ally for those wishing to sway the Mexican vote. But as tensions between white and Chicano cultures develop, Gonzalez becomes a spokesperson for his community, speaking out against unjust arrests and deportations. Eventually he comes in conflict with the white establishment and is falsely arrested. His wife must organize the Mexican community to free her husband and clear his name.

— Tony Safford

Screening Details

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