Renee Tajima-Peña's film wins documentary prize at film festival, premieres May 4

Renee Tajima-Pena's new film follows the family odyssey of the seven Pena brothers. Photo courtesy of Renee Tajima-Pena.

Renee Tajima-Peña's film Calavera Highway, named the best television documentary by the San Francisco International Film Festival, will premiere during the festival on Sunday, May 4, at the Sundance Kabuki Cinemas.

Tajima-Peña, an associate professor of community studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz, will receive the Golden Gate Award for best long-form documentary at the premiere, which begins at 6:15 p.m. The Sundance Kabuki Cinemas are located at 1881 Post Street at Fillmore in San Francisco.

Calavera Highway was also named best feature documentary during the San Diego Latino Film Festival in March and was selected for national broadcast by PBS from more than 1,000 entries. It will air September 23 on PBS stations as part of its P.O.V. (point of view) documentary series.

The film, by independent film makers Tajima-Peña and Evangeline Griego, is a feature-length documentary about Tajima-Peña's husband's family. A sweeping story of seven brothers grappling with the meaning of masculinity, fatherhood, and the nature of family ties, the film follows Armando Peña, a veteran of the 1968 Chicano student walkouts, and his brother Carlos, as they carry their mother's ashes back to South Texas and reunite with their far-flung brothers. Calavera Highway traces the family odyssey as the Peñas learn why their mother was an outcast and what happened to their father, who disappeared during "Operation Wetback," the 1954 U.S. government program that deported more than 1 million Mexicans and Mexican Americans.

Calavera Highway will also screen at 1 p.m. on Wednesday, May 7, at the Sundance Kabuki Cinemas and also on Thursday, May 8, at 6:30 p.m. at the Pacific Film Archive in Berkeley.

Tajima-Peña is the award-winning film maker of Who Killed Vincent Chin? As a founding faculty member of the UCSC graduate program in Social Documentation, Tajima-Peña teaches documentary film making and video production. Her work focuses on Asian American and immigrant communities, media, and social change.