The Last Conquistador

The city of El Paso is divided over a new public statue of a conquistador that evokes pride in Hispanics, and outrage among Native Americans.

Film Signature Image
Premiere Date
July 15, 2008
60 minutes
Funding Initiative
Open Call

John J Valadez

John Valadez has been producing and directing award-winning documentaries for PBS and CNN for the past 14 years. His credits include the critically acclaimed Passin' It On, which aired on P.O.V. in 1994 and The Last Conquistador, which aired on P.O.V. in 2008. He also was a producer for three PBS series: Making Peace; Matters of Race; and Visiones: Latino Arts & Culture. Show more He was a producer of Beyond Brown for PBS, and he produced "High Stakes Testing" for CNN Presents. He wrote, directed, and produced The Chicano Wave segment of Latin Music USA, which will be rebroadcast by PBS in September 2010. Valadez is a founding member of the New York City chapter of the National Association of Latino Independent Producers (NALIP). He is a Rockefeller Fellow and a PBS/CPB Producers Academy Fellow. He has twice been a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellow and is a graduate of the film program at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts. Valadez lives in Warwick, New York. Show less


Cristina Ibarra

For the past seven years, Cristina Ibarra has been making short fiction and non-fiction films that have been seen on public television, in galleries, museums, schools and film festivals across the United States including: the Guggenheim, Exit Art Gallery, the Queens Museum, Stanford and Brown Universities. Her award-winning directorial debut, Dirty Laundry: A Homemade Telenovela Show more aired on the PBS series ColorVision. Her other films include: Grandma’s Hip-Hop, Lupe from the Block and Amnezac. She is currently developing her first feature film, Love & Monster Trucks. Show less

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The Film

When the renowned sculptor John was commissioned to create a monument to Spanish conquistador Juan de Oñate for the city of El Paso, it was meant to be a little larger than life-size. But Houser had other plans: to create the largest bronze equestrian statue ever created. To some, the massive statue is a fitting tribute to the contributions Hispanic people made to building the American West. But Native Americans are outraged — the Oñate they remember was the man who cut off the native people’s feet, brought genocide to their land, and sold their children into slavery. As El Paso divides along lines of race and class in The Last Conquistador, the artist must face the moral implications of his work.