Three Films by Danny Lyon


Location: Theatre Vanguard
9014 Melrose Avenue , Los Angeles, California 90069


'I first traveled to Columbia my writer friend Harris Dulany. As we sat eating in a centro restaurant of a small town on the coast, two boys stood in the doorway glancing at us when we weren't looking at them. It was Joselin and Ivan and they were waiting to eat the scraps we would leave from our meal. This was the beginning of Los Ninos Abandonados. It took another 16 months to raise the money and meet Paul Justman, the filmmaker and editor who did the sound and went through all the madness of film making with me. Fillmmaking for us became like a small guerilla war. Get there, do it, and get out. Mobs would form whenever they say Paul and me with the children, so we began to meet secretly with the children in the graveyard, which we then used as a 'studio.' Harris got stabbed while defending me against knife wielding young men, and Colombian secret police stopped Paul and me in the middle of filming the 'Feast' scene. When some customers pulled guns in the whore house one of the girls turned to Paul and said, 'I think its getting a little peligroso in here.' Filmmaking like war, is an exquisite combination of heaven and hell. El Mojado was in fact about my best friend for many years in New Mexico, an undocumented worker from rural Chihuahua who I found loading alfalfa bales for $5.00 a day. His name was Eddie and I soon came to regard him a genius. Eddie could do anything, make anything, fix any car or truck, and usually do it with scraps. We built an adobe house together and every spring I would meet him near the border and smuggle him past border patrol into the United States. He introduced me to the whole unbelievable world of 'illegal aliens' and in the end he became so frightened of the consequences of being in the film that he ran away. In what we thought was the middle of filmming we lost the star and I lost my friend forever. A few weeks later standing together before his house in Mexico, Eddie looked at me and said, 'Don't you understand, I am an illegal person over there.' I made SOC. SCI. 127 in Houston in 1969. I had heard of Bill Sanders' painless tattoo shop from inmates inside a Texas penitentiary. Bill was a famous character among them for he had tattooed many of the inmates' wives.Bill was a character indeed. He was a fine tattoo artist and a great photographer whose ultimate brilliance had him putting his color polaroid pictures of tattooed ladies on the wall with thumb tacks where, of course they would fade and disappear. He was also one of the most outrageous talkers I've ever met.I believed in one thing when I shot the film and that was the power of reality. When I edited the film in Robert Frank's house in New York I tried to make Bill talk as funny as possible. Robert looked at it after I had spent four months of a hot New York summer on a moviola and said, 'It came out better than I thought.' I was in heaven. Two years later Bill Sanders was dead.' - Danny Lyon
[Source: Theatre Vanguard Program Notes, 1976]