“It’s really important how we remember people,” said Pepe Urquijo. “When someone important in the community disappears without a reason, it’s hard to stomach.” Urquijo is a New York City School of Visual Arts MFA candidate, a Rockefeller Media Arts fellow, and a documentarian with extensive experience filming in the Bay Area. He’s also the man behind Radio Bandido, the documentary about fellow Chicano activist and friend Oscar Gomez, who mysteriously disappeared and was later found dead in Isla Vista in 1994.
Gomez, known fondly as the Radio Bandido, was a California student who became enthralled with broadcasting while attending UC Davis. He merged his passion for Chicano studies and social activism with his newfound hobby and, in doing so, cultivated a substantial number of interested ears in his community. He traveled California, trailing various politically charged Latino issues along the Pacific Coast, until the night he disappeared in I.V. Gomez’s body was found the next morning, washed up near the shore lining UC Santa Barbara’s campus. To the dismay and disappointment of Bandido’s friends, family, and the Latino community, the circumstances surrounding his death — which notably include unexplained blunt-force trauma to the head — remain a mystery.
Urquijo’s film, which sneak previews this Tuesday, April 10, at UCSB’s Pollock Theater, is a labor of love many years in the making. Last year, he returned to Isla Vista to film the beaches where Gomez’s body was found with a crew of like-minded filmmakers.
“It’s a story that needs to be told,” said Urquijo. “There are generations now that didn’t know Oscar, his work, his radio show, what he stood for, or what he was about. … When somebody dies and there isn’t a clear picture, all that’s left are theories and memories. I want people to walk away feeling like they knew Oscar.”
KCSB-FM 91.9 presents a free preview screening of Radio Bandido at UCSB’s Pollock Theater on Tuesday, April 10, at 7 p.m. Visit kcsb.org for info.