The 2021 American Documentary and Animation Film Festival will kick off its 10th annual event with a new, documentary that honors the late and great popular music star, Trini Lopez. The screening is set for the Mary Pickford Drive-In as a hybrid addition to the Covid forced virtual version, noted AmDocs Director and Founder, Teddy Grouya.


Grouya has selected MY NAME IS LOPEZ, an independent film from Desert filmmakers, directors P. David Ebersole and Todd Hughes, produced by Joan and Gary Gand, the founders of Coachella Valley's #1 Fan Favorite musical  group, The Gand Band, to make its World Premiere on the Opening Night of AmDocs2021 on March 25 in Palm Springs and Cathedral City. The film will screen three times over AmDocs' 10-day run: Thursday, March 25 at 6:30 pm at the Mary Pickford Theatres (filmmakers in attendance with special guests THE GAND BAND to perform) and at the Camelot Theatres at the Palm Springs Cultural Center;  Friday & Saturday, March 26-27 lot opens at 6:00 pm. (filmmakers in attendance)


Trinidad Lopez III is the son of a proud Mexican father who was a renowned musician in his own right. Like many before them and since, Mr. and Mrs. Lopez braved extreme danger and gave up everything to cross the border for a better life. Settling in Little Mexico, a black and Mexican ghetto of Dallas, the struggling couple gave birth to their first son, who would pick up his father’s dreams and run further than either of them could ever imagine.

Following several near misses at becoming a star, Trini landed an engagement at the Hollywood nightclub PJ’s, where Trini hoped to meet his idol Frank Sinatra, known to be a regular. Word of a new singing star on the horizon got out and his audience grew quickly. Finally one night, he not only met Sinatra but impressed him so much that the superstar signed Lopez on the spot to his label, Reprise Records. And quickly brought him into his elite circle of friends.

The rest, as they say, is history. His 1963 album, “Trini Lopez at PJ's,” included a version of "If I Had a Hammer," which reached number one in 36 countries. Buoyed by the political climate as a protest song reclaimed by the demographic it represented, his Latin-infused version peaked at no. 3 in the United States, charting higher than Peter Paul & Mary’s standard. He scored 13 chart singles through 1968, and became one of the country's top nightclub performers of the folk rock era, regularly headlining in Vegas, where performers of color were not allowed to sit and drink in the very places they played. An honorary member of the Rat Pack during a time of insidious racism in America, he shared a complicated relationship with his lifelong friend and mentor Sinatra.


The film includes a rare live performance with Trini Lopez and the Gand Band, and a candid on-stage Q&A by Alison Martino of Vintage Los Angeles.


The March 25th screening is complimented with the Desert's favorite rock band, The Gand Band.  This dynamic husband and wife team bring their Chicago sound to the desert. Veteran bluesman Gary Gand handles the six strings, driving the band, channeling a bit of Eric Clapton, Freddie King and Jeff Beck rolled into one.  Keyboardist Joan Gand, grooves on classic Hammond B-3 style organ and bluesy piano with inspiration from Booker T. Jones, Jimmy Smith, and Ramsey Lewis, all while her left hand is laying down the bass. 

The Gand Band is known for their philanthropy and fund-raising efforts with their "concerts for a cause."  They have worked with AIDS Assistance Program, Palm Springs Animal Shelter, Well in the Desert, FIND Food Bank, Palm Springs High School Arts Institute, and many other organizations to plan successful fundraisers. 



Past AmDocs Opening Night Gala guests have included the likes of 5-time Grammy winner Dionne Warwick, Oscar-winning Director Oliver Stone, Emmy-winning host of The Amazing Race Phil Keoghan, legendary actor George Takei, Oscar-nominated Director Julie Cohen, and Native American activist and Oscars legend Sacheen Littlefeather, among others.

Our March 25th event begins by 7:00 pm with the Gand Band performing live before the screening, please be sure to arrive at the venue with your car no later than 6:30 pm, with film immediately following the music performance.


Tickets for this event may be purchased separately. Admission to the drive in screenings is $40 per car.

About the filmmakers:  THE EBERSOLE HUGHES COMPANY is a unique creative collaboration from the husband/husband team P. David Ebersole and Todd Hughes, each an accomplished writer, director and producer. Producing and writing credits include work with HBO, Showtime, IFC and VH1. The duo’s directing credits include Fox Television, Sundance Channel, Lifetime, indie features, shorts, and music videos.

Recent features include their first documentary HIT SO HARD, about drummer Patty Schemel of Courtney Love’s seminal grunge band Hole. They are Executive Producers of the IDA award-winning ROOM 237, which premiered at Sundance, and was an official selection at the Director’s Fortnight at the Cannes Film Festival.

Ebersole Hughes created Lifetime’s award-winning DEAR MOM, LOVE CHER, a documentary about Georgia Holt, the mother of international superstar Cher. Their last venture, MANSFIELD 66/67, is the first co-directing credit for the pair and it celebrates the legendary story of Jayne Mansfield's fateful last two years of life on the 50th anniversary of her death. HOUSE OF CARDIN, their critically acclaimed authorized feature documentary on the life and career of design icon Pierre Cardin, premiered at the Venice Film Festival and swept the CineFashion Film Awards (taking trophies for Best Directing, Best Feature Fashion Film, Best Cinematography, and the Life Achievement Award for its subject Mr. Cardin). Transcending the pandemic with a bonafide space age release, it played theatrically worldwide, and can be found on premium streaming services.


World Premiere of Trini Lopez biopic at 10th Annual AmDocs, March 25th, 6:30 p.m.