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Bonus Episode: Interview with Rito Zazueta

 June 1, 2023 at 2:38 PM PDT

S1: Hola , amigos. Natalie here. Welcome to another special bonus episode of Port of Entry. This is a follow up from our last episode. Pura Vida , A Case for the Tijuana Dream.

S2: And Ruby's decision to stay here has paid off. They're happy and fulfilled in Tijuana.

S1: They feel grateful.

S2: American Dream.

S3: No , no , no , no. They sell Americano. Peso.

S4: Mexican American Mint. Estados Unidos. Para Tijuana. Progreso. Cuanto. Sinaloa. The Lados Aqui. I see Amigo on familiar $7 Trabajando Esto. Yeah. Come on , Tipo Mexican dream No.

UU: El Tijuana dream.

S5: It has. It has now a place to where people want to be here. And people want to spend time here , and people want to spend money here. When before everybody would leave , everybody would go and spend their money in the States. But the economy kind of played a weird part in it. People started realizing that here with a little bit of money , they can start a really cool business. And I feel like the local culture started appreciating itself.

S1: In this brief episode , our producer Julio , sat down with Rito , an independent filmmaker from Tijuana and Chula Vista , to discuss Tijuana's representation in the media and the impact and reception Rita's documentary has had.

S6: Hey , guys. Hulu here. Actually , we all thought that this conversation was too long to feature in its entirety in our past episode , but felt that this conversation was too good not to showcase at all. So here we are.

S1: Join us as Julio and Rito , explore and discuss the positive and negative aspects of Tijuana's media representation and Rita's journey in creating this wonderful piece.

S2: We will be back after a short break. From Kpbs. You are listening to Port of Entry.

S1: Here are Julio and Rita. Hope you enjoy it. And thank you for listening.

S7: Hi , I'm Rito Asura. I had the opportunity to study at New York Film Academy back in 2015 , and I had a thesis , my thesis film for the end of the school year. I had to create a documentary that was close to my heart , something that meant something for me. It was a 17 minute documentary. That was my final project , and after weeks and weeks of thinking of what I should do , what I should focus on. I decided to do it about my city of Tijuana , which is in Baja , California. It's the border town in San Diego. I wanted to show a different light on the city. Everyone is always used to seeing Tijuana in a negative light. It has a bad reputation. It has a sort of like shadow on top of the city , which might which is true. There's some things that have happened there that obviously I'm not denying any of that , but I. I wanted to make an extra effort to sort of like bypass that. Like , yes , we know this is the reality , but let me focus on something good. And I decided to make this film and focus on , you know , the culture revolution that was happening at the time. And it's still happening today that there are so many cool restaurants , there's so many like cool bars and there's so much like movement and businesses happening and like there's so many new developments. Like it's a land of opportunity. Like , yes , people do get kidnapped. Yes , there is crime. Yes , we know all the reality of of the city. But I wanted to show like , hey , but it's also this , this , this and this. So come with me and I'll show you this , like , journey of of just cool kids trying to do their best , you know , with their situation with the cards they were dealt. So it was a lovely , lovely experience. In total , it was about three months from pre-production to post-production. And I'm just so grateful that I was able to do that. And Tijuana dream. To this day , I always get some sort of mention or recognition like , Hey , that was such a cool documentary. I'm like , Thanks. I was just like a student doing things , you know , to pass my class. But it was a lot more than that. Like , it had a lot more of a special reception. Yeah , yeah , reception. And it just really touched people's hearts. So I'm very grateful.

S6: You seem to put into words or coined a term that was in the consciousness of many , many people from Tijuana , including myself. In the early 20 tens , 20,000 , we saw people starting to stay here instead of , you know , just using this , the point of crossing , you know , and you captured really well that sort of sentiment , the sort of opportunities that the city , the region offers , the folks who decide to stay here. Obviously , there's different realities. If you're from the east of Tijuana , you might face different challenges that if you're from a different area of Tijuana , I'll tell you from Playas or Hipolito or Caliente , all those all those areas. So but still , it's just the stories of resiliency that you get showcased in Tijuana captures that sort of that guys that was going through those times.

S7: It felt like , Wow , am I really doing this ? You know , I from talking about it in school and telling my teachers kind of like we had a bunch of meetings beforehand and like the whole like , pre-production process kind of landing on what like , my themes were going to be , who were we going to interview ? But it's also keep in mind that it's a documentary. So you you don't pay actors , you don't pay people to be there on a certain time. Documentaries , you just kind of go with the flow. So I thought that was kind of cool because Tijuana's like that , you know , Tijuana is very , um , you know , you can't expect what's going to happen in Tijuana. And it's very like you go with the flow all the time in that city. Like sometimes you plant things and then you get your car hits a pothole and oh , my gosh , I have a flat tire. Or sometimes the streets are all closed. Sometimes the bridge is like , that's just the one. It's sort of like chaos. It's like this chaotic place , but it always brings a smile to your face. So I knew that the documentary was going to kind of be like that at first. Like , where are we going to do ? What are we going to do ? Like we tried to organize as much as possible , but at the same time , as a filmmaker , you have to like be very open to like , Hey , but things might change. So I was just very excited to learn. In the process of making this documentary , I met amazing people , I met amazing artists and really like top influencers of of the city. And I'm talking like city influencers that actually like build stuff and create jobs and stuff. So for me , it was the greatest takeaway was the way people received the film and how grateful they were to see their city be portrayed in this positive light. And even though we do have mention of the crime and , you know , narcos and dark legends and all that that surrounds the city , that they've been wearing this hat for so long , I kind of had I felt that responsibility of like Port de Juana , Like , let me just get let me take off this huge heavy backpack for 17 minutes and let me just let them rest and show this like , city that we're so beyond that. So I kind of felt like the city and its people and everybody that we're able to see this film kind of like they they felt proud and they're like , Heck yeah , thank you. A lot of people would always say thank you and we're grateful for what I was able to show in a short film. I mean , I was I was just a student doing this film , like I said , but I really poured all my heart into it. And the editing , I edited it. I mean , we are with my brother , my producer , he helped me out with like who to interview. And it was all local talent that helped me. Even the soundtrack , the the songs in that film were created by Romel Duran , who's like this amazing musician from Tijuana who's had opportunity to create with like , other amazing artists. So just even like the simplest little sounds that you hear , like , that's 100% right there , you know ? So for me , it was it was very cool that we were able to do something so special with Tijuana local talent and that the city really appreciated. And I it was a gift. It was a gift. I didn't do it for the views. I didn't do it for the likes. It was way beyond like , oh my gosh , I want like , not at all. I didn't do it for fame or anything or like even recognition really. If I'm not even in the film. I just wanted it as a gift for the city. Like , Hey , there's this little glimpse of hope and a little bit of joy. Here it is. And I wanted to give it to the city as a present last day.

S6: Is there something who you some of you would say somebody who has never visited Tijuana. You try and do an elevator speech. They have convince them to go.

S7: Come to Tijuana. You have to try the food. There's so many cool restaurants. There's so many nice things to do. You're going to have so much fun. I guarantee there's going to be some funny story that you're going to go back and talk to your friends about. Tijuana never ceases to surprise you and to just fill you with joy if you're able to overcome some of those fears that the media and a lot of people have instilled in us , if you're able to literally cross the border of those fears and just sort of bask in Tijuana's glory , I promise you you'll have an amazing day and you'll want to tell your friends about it.

S6: What a great way to end this little interview. Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us. Thank you so much. And thank you.

S1: From Kpbs. You are listening to Port of Entry.

S2: Again , we can't thank Rita enough for allowing us to share her great work. All right , y'all. This concludes today's bonus episode. We hope you guys enjoyed this brief conversation. And if you want to check out Rita's documentary Tijuana Dream , the link will be in the Instagram post I.A. Demos.

In this brief episode, our producer Julio sat down with Rito Zazueta - an independent filmmaker from Tijuana/Chula Vista to discuss Tijuana's representation in the media and the impact and reception Rito’s documentary- Tijuana Dream- has had.

Tune in!


Big thanks to Rito Zazueta for letting us include bits and pieces of her monumental short in this episode. Here's the Link to her documentary.

Tijuana Dream (2016)

Dir. Rito Zazueta

Prod. Rick Zazueta

🎶 “Flotando” Rommel Duran / Entre Desiertos

🎥 Josha Olivera


Port of Entry has a whole new set of stories with you, this time centered around food and migration.

This season we share several stories about how food has changed cities in the borderlands, including episodes on folks who have made Valle de Guadalupe, the famous wine region of northern Baja, their home.

Follow hosts Natali Gonzalez and Alan Lilienthal as they sit down with these fascinating people who share their personal and family stories. Listen in and join us!

If you like this episode, show us some love @portofentrypod


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“Port of Entry'' is written, produced, and directed by Julio C. Ortiz Franco. Luca Vega is our Technical Producer and Sound Designer.

Alisa Barba is our editor.

Episodes are translated by Julio C. Ortiz Franco and Natali Gonzales.

Elma Gonzalez and M.G. Perez are our Spanish Editors.

Lisa Morrisette-Zapp is Director of Audio Programming and Operations and John Decker is the Director of Content Development.

This program is made possible, in part, by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the American people.