On any given day, Angelenos can be treated to traveling art galleries rich with uniquely American culture and California-grown talent – if only they viewed lowriders, the custom old-school cars tricked out with candy-colored paint, the shiniest chrome and hydraulics, as the artistry in motion they are.
For these reasons, the two heavyweights in East L.A.’s lowriding scene lent their expertise and names, as executive producers, to “Lowriders,” opening in theaters Friday.
The film is being heralded as the first major feature inspired by the people and traditions of the lowrider culture.
“Lowriders,” is a coming-of-age tale about a young street artist, played by Gabriel Chavarria, straddling life between his father, who’s all about lowriders; his ex-felon brother, who hates their dad, and his need for self-expression.
The picture was directed by the Peru-born Ricardo de Montreuil, known for the Spanish-language films “La mujer de mi hermano” and “Máncora.” He says he was attracted to the story because of the “Amazing” lowrider subculture, which he experienced after moving to L.A. from Miami 12 years ago – a culture uniquely Mexican American.
De Montreuil believes the coming-of-age vantage from which the film is told is the perfect way in for those not familiar with lowrider culture – because at the core of the story is a universal theme of self-discovery.
In the case of “Lowriders,” the film and the culture, one realizes that this world created in Southern California by Latinos is “Part of the American cultural fabric,” De Montreuil says, and influences the world.
All associations of gang violence are actually “On the outside of it,” Cartoon says, especially considering the history of the culture w, “In the ’70s, lowriders were looked at as pretty boys.” While the lowriding community did have clashes with the LAPD, prompting a crackdown in the 1990s, a new generation of “Hip-hop cops who knew lowriders aren’t that bad,” Cartoon says, helped usher in the culture’s legal resurgence in the early 2000s.