On-screen reflections of a famous father 

A legendary San Mateo Superior Court judge in the 1940s told his son he should put down the camera and be an attorney, but the son decided his relationship with Lady Justice should be told by exposure.

The son packed his camera for a trip to Vietnam, leaving behind a father who had a reputation of being a crusader and mediating hidden histories of gambling and other corruption in the county.

Then, after decades of documenting wars and struggle in Asia and Central America and managing the San Francisco photo bureau for Reuters, Lou Dematteis decided to retrace the marvel of his dad, Louis B. Dematteis, in San Mateo County.

He retells the silent parallels he had with his father’s morals — though oceans apart — with a one-hour film.

“Crimebuster: A Son’s Search for His Father,” produced and directed by Dematteis and Mary Jo McConahay, is debuting at the San Mateo County History Museum at two free showings on April 8.

“It’s interesting because people had told me this before. People would say, ‘Oh, you’re so much like your father and I never quite made the connection,’” he said. “I was doing what I thought was important to show what injustices and so did he.”

It starts in 1903, when his grandfather left Italy for America, and wraps up in 2009, when Dematteis takes his daughter Gabriela Dematteis, 18 at the time, back to the same village where his grandfather grew up.

“The same house is still there,” he said.

He started collecting bits of history, old family films and photographs and listening to reminiscent tales nearly five years ago.
Now, anyone who wants to see it can catch it at the museum at either 7 p.m. or 9 p.m. as long as they RSVP.

Dematteis said the film will also eventually show on public television. Then, he plans to enter it into a film festival and move on to the next project.

‘Crimebuster: A Son’s Search for His Father’

When: April 8, 7 and 9 p.m.
Where: San Mateo County History Museum
Address: 2200 Broadway St., Redwood City
Phone: (650) 299-0104
Admission: Free
Tickets: RSVP

kkelkar@sfexaminer.com

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Kamala Kelkar

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