The Dawning of Liberty


A film portrait of Padre Antonio José Martínez of Taos, New Mexico, one of the most important figures in southwestern history during the 19th century. Martìnez lived through some of the most turbulent episodes of the borderlands, when the region changed first from Spanish to Mexican control, and then was conquered by the United States. The film represents a significant vehicle for authentically presenting an historically significant episode in the life experiences of the Mexican-origin population to a wide general audience, using the framework of the biography of an important, although little known, 19th century figure. Martínez was born in 1793 in Abiquiu, New Mexico. A priest, educator, writer, publisher and advocate for his people, Martínez was involved in the protection of indigenous rights for both Mexicans and Native Americans. He published New Mexico’s first newspaper and opened the first major coeducational school in New Mexico. During the Mexican period, he was an outspoken critic of land grants made to outsiders. By the time of the U.S.- Mexican War of 1846-1848, he played a key role in activities unfolding in the region. In the years following the war, Martìnez found himself at odds with the newly-named Archbishop of Santa Fe, Jean Baptiste Lamy, a Frenchmen whose perspective and views were entirely different from those of Martìnez. In his final years, Martínez became a champion of the Penitentes, a brotherhood of Catholic Hispanics dedicated to community charity, mutual aid and the spirit of penance.

Directed, Produced & Written by Paul Espinosa
A Production of Espinosa Productions