Red Gringo: American Pop Culture and Cold War in Latin America.

(Gringo rojo)
Miguel Angel Vidaurre | Documentary, Musical

2016 | 68 minutes | Chile

Reminiscent of Searching for Sugarman, the film follows Dean Reed, a North American singer who became a pop idol during the ʼ50s and ʼ60s in Chile and the Americas.


Reminiscent of Searching for Sugarman, director Miguel Ángel Vidaurre’s self-described “pop memory exercise” follows North American singer Dean Reed’s surprising and unlikely political transformation after learning of the brutality and repression of U.S.-supported regimes in South America. Born in Lakewood, Colorado, Reed attempted to conquer the American music industry with his voice and charisma. His songs found modest success in the U.S. but became massive hits in Latin America. In 1962, with hopes of cashing in on his international popularity, Reed tours South America, where he undergoes a political awakening that earned him the nickname “The Red Elvis.” After being forced into exile, Reed settled in East Germany where he continued his career until his mysterious death in 1986. Making magnificent use of never seen old photographs, interviews, concert footage, and other unpublished material, Red Gringo sheds light on what was really happening in Latin America during the Cold War.


"★★★ A fascinating tribute to an idiosyncratic artist, this is recommended." — P. Hall, Video Librarian

"Red Gringo recounts Reed's transformation from teen idol to political activist, crosscutting among a jumbled mélange of concert footage, newsreel clips, and interviews." — Dave Segal, The Stranger

"It is a document that every Chilean should see." — Joblar, Candilejas

"Vidaurre turns almost exclusively to the wealth of archival material surrounding his subject to tell this story...The result is a fascinating look back at one of the United States' most peculiar 20th century pop phenomena." — Andrew S. Vargas, Remezcla

"Using old photos, interviews, and previously unreleased footage, [Vidaurre] constructs a story of this unlikely radical whose left-wing philosophy earned him the nickname "Red Gringo." Not only does Vidaurre delve into Reed's unusual life, he also captures the brutality, oppression, and poverty of his homeland during the Cold War." — Janice Headley, KEXP

"A novel work that manages to maintain itself in the outskirts of any radical judgement of the history of our country and doesn't lose sight of this unknown singer for many contemporaries but places him as one of the many small heroes that dare to raise his voice, without being a direct part of the issue. Recommended. " —Wladimyr Valdivia, El Otro Cine

Main credits

Vidaurre, Miguel Ángel (film director)
Obando, Paulina (film producer)
Dintrans, Pablo (narrator)

Other credits

Cinematography, Vicente Mayo, Tomás Yovane; editor, Paulina Obando.

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Seattle International Film Festival - Ibero American Competition
Valladolid International Film Festival

DIRECTOR: Miguel Angel Vidaurre


YEAR: 2016

GENRE: Documentary, Musical


COLOR / B&W: Color

GRADE LEVEL: College, Adults



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