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Amy Poehler, Eva Longoria Bastón share perspectives on Desi Arnaz, Oscar De La Hoya

UPI News
UPI News
 2022-01-23
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LOS ANGELES, Jan. 23 (UPI) -- Amy Poehler and Eva Longoria Bastón, who both directed documentaries which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, said they hope to bring their perspectives to stories of men.

Longoria Bastón, 46, directed La Guerra Civil, about the 1996 bout between boxers Oscar De La Hoya and Julio César Chávez. Poehler, 50, directed Lucy and Desi, about Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball.

"We should open ourselves up to telling male stories from a female point of view," Poehler said at a virtual Cinema Cafe talk on Sunday. "I think that it's very exciting to watch female filmmakers take on typically gendered masculine stories."

Poehler directed episodes of her shows Parks and Recreation and Broad City. She directed three features -- Dumb Prince, Wine Country and Moxie -- prior to the documentary.

Longoria Bastón said that reporters have asked De La Hoya about having a female director tell his story. Longoria said De La Hoya has supported her through the filmmaking and premiere.

"He really never flinched," Longoria said. "He was like, 'Because she knows me. She knows my story. She lived the same experience I lived.'"

Longoria Bastón grew up in a Mexican-American household. Longoria Bastón said she remembers how her family struggled over who to root for in a match between Mexican-American De La Hoya and Mexican fighter Chávez.

"It divided my household," Longoria Bastón said. "There was screaming about it."

Poehler said Ball's story often overshadows Arnaz's. Poehler wanted to ensure Arnaz's contributions got equal weight in Lucy and Desi.

"Desi was a giant in the industry," Poehler said. "Desi became a gatekeeper at a time when few Latin men were allowed in the room, certainly."

Lucy and Desi shows how Arnaz had the idea to film I Love Lucy in front of a studio audience. The couple also introduced the ideas of filming with multiple cameras, showing reruns during the off season, and blocking and editing routines the television industry still employs today.

Poehler said Arnaz's music helped him cross over into Hollywood. Arnaz played conga music, and introduced the conga line which translated beyond Cuban music.

"When he's playing, it is like his most free," Poehler said. "Music travels across every country and there is a universal feeling and language, certainly. That is how Desi figured out how to be an American, through his music."

Longoria Bastón said she has been personal friends with De La Hoya for 25 years. The boxer asked her to direct the documentary, and she had to approach Chávez separately to participate. He agreed.

Known as an actor in Desperate Housewives, Longoria Bastón has been directing television since 2014. She made her directorial debut with the 2010 documentary Latinos Living the American Dream.

Longoria Bastón said she saw in La Guerra Civil how sports promotes division, be it race or nationality, to hype up fights. Longoria Bastón said she hopes the film encourages viewers to focus on fights outside of the ring.

"We have bigger fights to fight outside of a ring," Longoria Bastón said. "Access to equal education, access to health care or access to voting, that's the fight we need to win. We need to figure out our similarities, not so much our differences."

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