John Valadez (’19) a Peabody Award-winning filmmaker, with two national Emmy nominations, who has written and directed a dozen feature-length documentary films for primetime national broadcast on PBS and CNN over the past 20 years.
His films have garnered top prizes at film festivals from San Francisco to Chicago to Mumbai, have been broadcast across the United States, Canada, and Europe, and have been featured at major museums and cultural institutions—including the Hirschhorn Museum, the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), Lincoln Center, and the National Gallery of Art.
John has a history of making films that tackle diverse, often controversial subjects related to race and power. His past films for primetime national broadcast include PASSIN’ IT ON (POV/PBS) about the false imprisonment of a leader of the Black Panther Party; MAKING PEACE (PBS) about Latino gangs in Chicago; two films for the landmark PBS series Latino Americans, one about Latinos in World War II and the other about the Chicano movement; BEYOND BROWN (PBS) about the re-segregation in America’s schools; THE LONGORIA AFFAIR (Independent Lens/POV) about the history of Latino civil rights; THE CHICANO WAVE about the evolution and impact of Chicano music; and LAST CONQUISTADOR (POV/PBS) about the intersection of art and race and the enduring impact of genocide on Native Americans in the Southwest.
His most recent film, AMERICAN EXILE, about the deportation of US military veterans, aired nationally and in primetime on PBS in November 2021. The project was John’s MFA thesis at VCFA. The film chronicles the lives of two brothers, both decorated Chicano combat veterans who volunteered and fought in Vietnam. Fifty year later they are being deported. The brothers soon learn they are part of a larger national phenomenon, the mass deportation of military veterans; almost all are people of color.
While making the film, John gave testimony at a Congressional Briefing on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. AMERICAN EXILE helped lead to a dramatic change in national policy when President Biden ordered the immediate return of all deported veterans and their families back to the United States.
In the fall of 2022, John will begin a new tenured professorship at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, where he will be Professor of Documentary Film and Social Change.