Made for cable, Walkout
is the true story of a little-known but profoundly significant moment in the history of the Latino community in East Los Angeles. In 1968, Lincoln High School honor student Paula Crisostomo (Alexa Vega
), outraged at the shabby treatment afforded Chicano students in the L.A. school system -- including habitually lowered expectations, poor facilities, a total absence of bilingual courses or textbooks, unfairly administered penalties for slight infractions, demeaning corporal punishment, and out-of-hand refusal to write letters of recommendation to choice colleges -- challenges the authority of her elders for the first time in her life by organizing a mass student walkout at five barrio high schools. Mentored by dedicated young teacher Sal Castro (Michael Pena
), Paula and her fellow student activists intend to make their protest a peaceful one, but the L.A. cops typically use brute force to quell the "radicals." Even when it seems that the school board will capitulate to the Chicano students' demands, the kids are betrayed (there's an undercover police officer in their midst) and the leaders of the walkout are threatened with lengthy prison sentences on trumped-up "conspiracy" charges. It will not spoil the ending of the film to reveal that the students are ultimately successful; as directed by actor Edward James Olmos
(who also plays one of the school board members), the dramatic thrust of the story is the lasting effect that the protest has on its participants -- especially the idealistic Paula Crisostomo. Executive producer Moctesuma Esparza, who'd been one of the original walkout organizers back in 1968, spent a full two decades getting this story on film; Esparza is played by Bodie Olmos
, son of the director, while Esparza's daughter Tonantzin Esparza is seen as Vickie Castro. Also, Paula Crisostomo's daughter Marisol Crisostomo-Romo is seen as Mita -- and in addition, several of the former student activists are interviewed during the closing credits, or appear as extras in the crowd scenes. Produced for HBO, Walkout
originally aired on March 18, 2006.