BRUJOS is a queer-of-color, radically politicized web series following four gay Latino doctoral candidates--that are also witches. They navigate magic, sexuality, and surviving a witch-hunt led by a secret society of white heteronormative male descendents of the first New World colonizers.

Written and created by Ricardo Gamboa

Directed by Ricardo Gamboa, Reshmi Hazra-Rustebakke, & Robert Stockwell

PART 1 TRAILER 

PARTS 2 & 3 TRAILER

WATCH
PART 1 - "THE DEVIL"

WATCH
PART 2 - "THE HANGMAN"

WATCH
PART 3 - "DEATH"

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ARTIST STATEMENT

TV can be art. TV can be revolutionary. TV can be popular entertainment AND incite critical dialogue. Audiences are hungry and intelligent enough for challenging work. This describes the philosophy behind BRUJOS, a counter-hegehmonic web series. Developed by Open TV (beta), conceived, written and directed by Ricardo Gamboa and to be shot by cinematographer Ben Kolak, BRUJOS is a queer-of-color web series.

BRUJOS blends the Latin American soap opera, American sitcom, and critical theory as it follows a coven of four queer Latino doctoral candidates as they learn magic, indulge in nightlife, navigate intimate relationships, and write seminar papers all while trying to survive a witch-hunt. These young protagonists confront histories and realities of racial and gendered inequality as they battle the secret society of white, heteronormative male descendants of the first New World colonizers behind the witch-hunt. Twelve, seven-minute episodes corresponding to signs of the zodiac cycle have been developed through queer men of color testimony; interviews with actual practitioners of divination and magic, i.e. psychics, santeras, tarot readers, etc.; and with academics of cultural studies, performance studies, and queer theory.

BRUJOS addresses the current the landscape of television: Gay men and people of color are more apparent than ever in mainstream television. Sitcoms like “Blackish” and “Fresh Off The Boat” depict families of color attaining the American dream. Programs such as “Looking” and “Modern Family” feature middle and upper class white gay men searching for love or functioning as an all-American family. While these shows are representational achievements, they are not revolutionary ones.

In these cases, ethnic, racial and sexual minorities are portrayed in ways that support dominant culture, narratives, values and relationality. Commercial television studios and networks preoccupied with “scale” and “big data” seldom produce aesthetically or politically challenging work to secure mass viewership. This only further marginalizes non-normative people who’s lives, realities, and stories do not fit within their depictions and who devise new ways of being under the pressures of inequality that are never affirmed. 

Moreover, Chicago has become a hotbed for television production. However, series such as Chicago P.D. reiterate stereotypes of people of color as criminals. Mega-hit EMPIRE provides more complex portrayals but it’s get-rich-or-die-trying messaging is consistent with popular culture. Too often work that offers alternative images, narratives, and values is not seen as viable by mainstream producers.

For such reasons, Stephanie Jeter moved from big budget television producing to assume a critical and creative approach to television production. Jeter’s commitment to working with independent artists led her to BRUJOSBRUJOS was conceived by Ricardo Gamboa, an award-winning “artivist” committed to creating work outside institutional frameworks. Gamboa began development for BRUJOS in 2014 through informal interviews with queer Latino men and healers and psychics.

BRUJOS matters. It is dark. It is funny. It is sincere. It is critical. It understands that we live in a world mired by inequalities and rationales that have a long history. Today’s episodes of violence and racial, gendered and social inequality have their roots Eurocentric colonization then Western capitalist globalization. In a world codified and conditioned by Western primacy of reason, capitalist logics of risk and profit, and hetero-patriarchal white supremacy, BRUJOS constitutes a radical alternative to dominant ways of relating, knowing, and feeling. BRUJOS ruminates on the lives of non-normative, queer and racialized subjects; centers on forgotten and marginalized authoritative bases of knowledge and agency such as magic, ritual, and enchantment; and explores subversion in everyday relations and spaces such as queer clubs, kinship and sex to invite alternative economies of risk and transaction, social and political ecologies, and radical intimacy. 

- Ricardo Gamboa, creator, writer, co-director and star of BRUJOS

THE BRUJOS

Ricardo Gamboa (PANFILO / writer, co-director, actor) is an artist, activist and academic working in his native Chicago and New York City. Ricardo is the winner of numerous awards, fellowships and grants such as a MacArthur Foundation International Connections Award, Latino ImPACT Playwrights Award, and a McCracken Fellowship at New York University (NYU). This year, he was a finalist for Sundance Film Festival Latino Film Fellowship and Latino Screen Writing Project. He is a Critical Collaborations Fellow at NYU’s Global Network University (2016- 2018). In Chicago, he is a company member of Barrel of Monkeys, Southside Ignoramus Quartet and Free Street Theater. He is the founding Artistic Director of Teatro Americano and founding adult partner of the controversial youth ensemble The Young Fugitives. In New York, he was a fellow of the Hemispheric Institute of Performance and Politics EmergeNYC program and company member of the New York Neo-Futurists. He is a graduate of the University of Illinois, Urbana; received his Master’s in Arts Politics from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts; and is currently pursuing his doctorate degree in American Studies at NYU’s Department of Social and Cultural Analysis. His short film The Southside Has Many Beauty Queens was winner of the Best Short at Chicago Latino Film Festival and his feature debut Maydays received standing-only crowds and critical praise from the festival.

Ricardo Gamboa (PANFILO / writer, co-director, actor) is an artist, activist and academic working in his native Chicago and New York City. Ricardo is the winner of numerous awards, fellowships and grants such as a MacArthur Foundation International Connections Award, Latino ImPACT Playwrights Award, and a McCracken Fellowship at New York University (NYU). This year, he was a finalist for Sundance Film Festival Latino Film Fellowship and Latino Screen Writing Project. He is a Critical Collaborations Fellow at NYU’s Global Network University (2016- 2018). In Chicago, he is a company member of Barrel of Monkeys, Southside Ignoramus Quartet and Free Street Theater. He is the founding Artistic Director of Teatro Americano and founding adult partner of the controversial youth ensemble The Young Fugitives. In New York, he was a fellow of the Hemispheric Institute of Performance and Politics EmergeNYC program and company member of the New York Neo-Futurists. He is a graduate of the University of Illinois, Urbana; received his Master’s in Arts Politics from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts; and is currently pursuing his doctorate degree in American Studies at NYU’s Department of Social and Cultural Analysis. His short film The Southside Has Many Beauty Queens was winner of the Best Short at Chicago Latino Film Festival and his feature debut Maydays received standing-only crowds and critical praise from the festival.

Justin I. Mitchell (EDWIN) is a Chicago based DJ and multimedia artist creating under the moniker Hijo Pródigo. The sound Mitchell cultivates through their DJ work spans sub-cultural club music movements found across the world, experimenting with dissonance, disparity and aggression while exploring themes of excess, chaos, destruction, redemption, and rebirth. Mitchell is currently working on music production with Chicago born/New York based, indie record label #FUTUREHOOD, as well as soundtracking various dance, film, and television projects. BRUJOS marks Justin's move from behind to camera to on screen acting.

Justin I. Mitchell (EDWIN) is a Chicago based DJ and multimedia artist creating under the moniker Hijo Pródigo. The sound Mitchell cultivates through their DJ work spans sub-cultural club music movements found across the world, experimenting with dissonance, disparity and aggression while exploring themes of excess, chaos, destruction, redemption, and rebirth. Mitchell is currently working on music production with Chicago born/New York based, indie record label #FUTUREHOOD, as well as soundtracking various dance, film, and television projects. BRUJOS marks Justin's move from behind to camera to on screen acting.

Isaac Gomez (JONATHAN) is a playwright, dramaturg, and the director of new play development at the award-winning Victory Gardens Theater in Chicago, IL. He is a Resident Playwright at Chicago Dramatists, Co-Creative Director at the Alliance of Latinx Theatre Artists in Chicago (ALTA) where he runs and is a participant of El Semillero: ALTA Chicago’s Latino Playwrights Circle, an Ensemble Member with Teatro Vista, an Artistic Associate of Pivot Arts, a steering committee member of the Latinx Theatre Commons (LTC) and an artistic community member at The Hypocrites in Chicago.

Isaac Gomez (JONATHAN) is a playwright, dramaturg, and the director of new play development at the award-winning Victory Gardens Theater in Chicago, IL. He is a Resident Playwright at Chicago Dramatists, Co-Creative Director at the Alliance of Latinx Theatre Artists in Chicago (ALTA) where he runs and is a participant of El Semillero: ALTA Chicago’s Latino Playwrights Circle, an Ensemble Member with Teatro Vista, an Artistic Associate of Pivot Arts, a steering committee member of the Latinx Theatre Commons (LTC) and an artistic community member at The Hypocrites in Chicago.

Jake Szczepaniak (BRIAN) is a Chicago-based actor. He was last seen in Remy Bumppo's Tom Stoppard's Henry IV. Last year he also appeared in American Blues Theater's world premiere of TRANSit and as Ginger in the Midwest premier of Jez Butterworth's Jerusalem at Profiles Theatre. He ambas numerous theatre credits that include Mike Barlett’s Cock (Profiles Theatre), Burn This (Shattered Globe Theatre), Mnemonic (Red Tape Theatre), Unwilling and Hostile Instruments (Theatre Seven), Changes of Heart (Remy Bumppo Theatre), Urinetown (Circle Theatre), and more, including work with Sideshow Theatre, Pride Films and Plays, The Hideout, (re)Discover Theatre, Silk Road Rising, Baliwick and the Illinois Shakespeare Festival. His television credits include Amazon Prime's PATRIOT. Represented by Paonessa Talent and a proud member of Red Tape Theatre, Jake is also a graduate of the University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana Acting Program.

Jake Szczepaniak (BRIAN) is a Chicago-based actor. He was last seen in Remy Bumppo's Tom Stoppard's Henry IV. Last year he also appeared in American Blues Theater's world premiere of TRANSit and as Ginger in the Midwest premier of Jez Butterworth's Jerusalem at Profiles Theatre. He ambas numerous theatre credits that include Mike Barlett’s Cock (Profiles Theatre), Burn This (Shattered Globe Theatre), Mnemonic (Red Tape Theatre), Unwilling and Hostile Instruments (Theatre Seven), Changes of Heart (Remy Bumppo Theatre), Urinetown (Circle Theatre), and more, including work with Sideshow Theatre, Pride Films and Plays, The Hideout, (re)Discover Theatre, Silk Road Rising, Baliwick and the Illinois Shakespeare Festival. His television credits include Amazon Prime's PATRIOT. Represented by Paonessa Talent and a proud member of Red Tape Theatre, Jake is also a graduate of the University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana Acting Program.

THE CREW

Executive Produced by Cinema Libertad
In Association With Full Spectrum Features

Olivia Curry / Producer
Adela Gamboa and Pedro Gamboa / Producer
Zoe Lubeck & Zapata / Director of Photography
Abby Young / Location Sound
Ana Velasquez / Production Designer
Dianne Lee, Olivia Curry, Laura Madalinski, Geoff Cronin / Editor
Joe Griffin, Joe Flood & Floodgates Audio / Sound Design
Brian Herrera & Attitude 7 / Visual Effects
Stephen Ptacek, Sadie Woods / Composer
Moderator / Music