Artist Bios

Yolanda Cruz


 Yolanda Cruz is an award-winning Chatino filmmaker from Oaxaca, Mexico.  Cruz, a Sundance Institute Native Lab Fellow, has produced seven documentaries on native people in the US and Mexico.  Her work has screened to much acclaim at film festivals and museums around the world including the Sundance Film Festival, the Guggenheim Museum in New York, Park la Villette in Paris, the National Geographic All Roads Film Project and the National Institute of Cinema in Mexico City. Yolanda holds an MFA from the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television. She speaks English, Spanish, and Chatino and wants to increase the representation of indigenous people in the media.


Supervising Producer
Phillip Rodriguez

Phillip Rodriguez is the founder of City Projects, an organization dedicated to creating sustainable programs that educate and entertain today's diverse audiences.
City Projects recently conducted My City Now, an interactive media literacy program for high school students in U.S. cities impacted by high rates of immigration.
Rodriguez's documentaries include Brown is the New Green: George Lopez and the American Dream (2007), Los Angeles Now (2004), Mixed Feelings: San Diego/Tijuana (2002), Manuel Ocampo: God is My Copilot (1999), and Pancho Villa & Other Stories (1998).
A Senior Fellow at Institute of Justice and Journalism at the USC Annenberg School for Communications, Rodriguez recently received the first annual United States Artists Broad Fellow Award.  



Research Advisor
Gaspar Rivera-Salgado

Gaspar Rivera-Salgado typifies Oaxacalifornian intelligentsia. Born in the northern reaches of the Mixtec sierra, Gaspar lives in Los Angeles, and stays abreast of issues on both sides of the border.  He is currently Project Director at UCLA Center for Labor Research and Education. He has previously held positions at several universities in the United States and was appointed holder of the Prince Claus Chair in Development and Equity (2004-2005) by the University Board of Utrecht University in the Netherlands.  He serves as an advisor to various migrant organizations in California, including the Binational Center for Oaxacan Indigenous Development (CBDIO), the Coalition for Humane Human Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA), and the Indigenous Organizations Binational Front (FIOB).  He is author of many publications about US-Mexican migration and has extensive experience as an independent consultant on transnational migration and grassroots philanthropy. Gaspar received his doctorate in sociology from the University of California, Santa Cruz.


Photography and
Cinematography Advisor
John Simmons
John Simmons advises his former students on cinematography and joins on trips across the border when time permits. Johnny's television credits include the PBS Hollywood Presents productions of Collected Stories and The Old Settler, as well as The Killing Yard, Cool Women, 3 Strikes and Ruby Bridges. Additional films he has shot include The Making of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers and Playboy's Women of Color. Johnny captured the majority of the images for our web site.



Co-producer Carlos Cruz


Carlos Cruz is Petate Films' resident jack-of-all-trades who loyally
and emphatically keeps the ball rolling. A contributing member of the
team since the ripe young age of 13, Mr. Cruz joined the company to
help gather material on guerilla fighters in the Oaxacan jungle and
has been on board ever since. A native of Oaxaca City, Mr. Cruz lived
in Olympia, Washington for a few years before relocating to his
current home in Los Angeles. He is a self-taught cinema enthusiast
for whom avoiding a future in film would be like "ignoring the giant
that lives in your house."