the life of Oscar Zeta Acosta

a.k.a The Brown Buffalo

a.k.a Dr. Gonzo.

In May of 1974, Oscar Zeta Acosta disappeared off the Pacific Coast of Mexico and was never heard from again. Immortalized as the “300-pound Samoan” Dr. Gonzo in Hunter S. Thompson’s cult novel Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, the 39-year- old Acosta had already left an enviable legacy: two critically praised novels, a high-profile turn as lead attorney for LA’s Chicano movement, a quixotic run for L.A. County Sheriff, and innumerable feats of radical activism-cum- performance art.

Yet, while Acosta’s mysterious disappearance sent shockwaves through the counterculture that had embraced him, his larger-than- life legacy soon faded tragically from memory – relegated, at best, to a supporting player in Thompson’s literary universe. The Rise and Fall of the Brown Buffalo rescues Acosta from obscurity, exploring the man’s personal and creative evolution against the backdrop of a society in turmoil, laying bare his brilliance, his contradictions, and his unique contribution to American society.

To learn more, visit PhillipRodriguez.co.




Director/Producer/Writer:  Phillip Rodriguez

Cinematographer/Editor/Animator:  Claudio Rocha

Writer: David Ventura

Executive Producer: Benicio Del Toro

Producer:  Alison Sotomayor

Associate Producer: Ricardo López

Original Music by: Alejandro Cohen & Aaron Drake



Jesse Celedon (Oscar Zeta Acosta)

Jeff Harms (Hunter S. Thompson)




Major funding by:



Variety: Benicio del Toro Joins ‘Rise and Fall of the Brown Buffalo’ as Exec Producer (EXCLUSIVE)

February 19, 2018

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Colorlines: WATCH: New Doc Explores Life and Disappearance of Oscar Zeta Acosta

"The Rise and Fall of the Brown Buffalo" follows the Chicano Movement activist's battle against the Los Angeles Police Department.
February 13, 2018


Los Angeles Times: OC Film Fiesta strives to entertain and inspire action

A number of unique screenings, special guests and entertaining events are in the works
September 29, 2017


48hills: Oscar Acosta, Chicano revolutionary, finally gets his historical due

Documentary takes a serious look at a brilliant, troubled leader who has been largely eclipsed by his friendship with Hunter Thompson
September 15, 2017


KPFA Radio: El Show de Andrés Soto

Interview with Phillip Rodriguez
September 7, 2017


KQED Arts: But Seriously, Folks

Six Films and Festivals to Catch this Fall
September 5, 2017


Aspen Daily News: Local photographers contribute to ‘Brown Buffalo’ documentary

Krueger, Hiser send images of Thompson sidekick Acosta
July 3, 2017