The rise and fall of the Brown Buffalo is an innovative look into the life of radical Chicano lawyer, author, and countercultural icon, Oscar Zeta Acosta – best known for his volatile friendship with legendary journalist-provocateur, Hunter S. Thompson. The author of two ground breaking autobiographical novels, 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.
Airs on WXXI-TV March 23, 2018 at 9:00 pm (1 hours long)
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