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This stunning documentary explores the brief, rich, and contradictory life of the artist, Chicano activist, sexual outlaw, and visionary painter whose images of his longtime home, Los Angeles, are as iconic as those of David Hockney and Edward Ruscha. Almaraz was just 48 when he died of complications of AIDS, but he packed many lifetimes of accomplishments into those intense years. In the 1960s, Almaraz lost himself in New York, exploring the outer limits of his homoerotic desires and nearly drinking himself to death. After returning to L.A. in the 1970s, he reinvented himself as an activist Chicano artist, working alongside Cesar Chavez and joining the heralded artist collective ‘Los Four’. In his final transformation, as a married man and father, Almaraz turned to more personal, visionary art, his canvases exploding with colour and a near mystical energy. Playing With Fire is an intimate portrait that pays tribute to Almaraz’s genius without glossing over his demons and contradictions.
Carlos Almaraz: Playing With Fire won the Jury Prize for Best Documentary at Denver’s XicanIndie Film Festival 2019.
“A diverse, colorful and energetic package that amplifies the subject’s own aesthetic.” – Variety
”…a wondrous, beautiful and heartbreaking documentary… the music of East L.A.’s Los Lobos provides the perfect soundtrack to this insightful and exquisite film.” - Mark Saldana, True View.
Zack De La Rocha, Shepard Fairey, Dolores Huerta
Elsa Flores Almaraz