Break of Dawn (1988)

100 or 105 mins | Biography | 26 August 1988

Director:

Isaac Artenstein

Cinematographer:

Stephen Lighthill

Editor:

John Nutt

Production Designer:

Don DeFina

Production Company:

Cinewest Productions
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HISTORY

End credits state: “The Producer Wishes To Thank: Artenstein Family; Peggy Ash; Dan Bessie; Beverly Colon; Daniel Dusek; Roxanne Fleming; Helen Garvey; Kathy Hansen; John Hanson; David Hay; David Helvarg; Aggie Hoffman; Alberto Isaac; Lucero Isaac; Wayne Kinoshita; Linda Newsum; David Parker; Selma Robbins; Nancy Robertson; Sandra Schulberg; Robert Shoup; Alan Splet; Ron Staley; Charles Tiano; Bill Tunberg; Jackie Tunberg; Steve Van Anda; Tanja Winter; Paul Zaentz; Arise Scaffolding (Jerry); The Bowery Theatre; California Western School of Law; Centro Cultural de la Raza; City of San Diego; The Comfort Inn; Coronado Travel; Knoxage Water; Marshall Plumb Research Assoc.; The Old Globe Theatre; Potrero Fire Department; Rare Records 11, San Diego; Ratner Art Center; San Diego Carpenters Local #1296; San Diego Motion Picture and TV Bureau; San Diego Police Department; San Diego Repertory Theatre; San Diego Youth and Community Services; San Quentin State Prison; State of California Film Commission.”
       The film opens with a written prologue: “This is a true story based on the life of Pedro J. Gonzalez. He was born in 1895 in El Carrizal, state of Chihuahua, Mexico. Pedro’s earliest memory is sitting and singing with his family as a five year old child on New Year’s Eve, 1900. As a boy of sixteen Pedro fought in the Mexican Revolution of 1910. For the next seven years he served as personal telegraph operator to General Pancho Villa. In 1919 Pedro married Maria Salcido and they settled on the family ranch in Mexico. In the turmoil that followed the revolution, times were very hard.” An epilogue precedes end credits: “Pedro J. Gonzalez was released on parole and deported ...

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End credits state: “The Producer Wishes To Thank: Artenstein Family; Peggy Ash; Dan Bessie; Beverly Colon; Daniel Dusek; Roxanne Fleming; Helen Garvey; Kathy Hansen; John Hanson; David Hay; David Helvarg; Aggie Hoffman; Alberto Isaac; Lucero Isaac; Wayne Kinoshita; Linda Newsum; David Parker; Selma Robbins; Nancy Robertson; Sandra Schulberg; Robert Shoup; Alan Splet; Ron Staley; Charles Tiano; Bill Tunberg; Jackie Tunberg; Steve Van Anda; Tanja Winter; Paul Zaentz; Arise Scaffolding (Jerry); The Bowery Theatre; California Western School of Law; Centro Cultural de la Raza; City of San Diego; The Comfort Inn; Coronado Travel; Knoxage Water; Marshall Plumb Research Assoc.; The Old Globe Theatre; Potrero Fire Department; Rare Records 11, San Diego; Ratner Art Center; San Diego Carpenters Local #1296; San Diego Motion Picture and TV Bureau; San Diego Police Department; San Diego Repertory Theatre; San Diego Youth and Community Services; San Quentin State Prison; State of California Film Commission.”
       The film opens with a written prologue: “This is a true story based on the life of Pedro J. Gonzalez. He was born in 1895 in El Carrizal, state of Chihuahua, Mexico. Pedro’s earliest memory is sitting and singing with his family as a five year old child on New Year’s Eve, 1900. As a boy of sixteen Pedro fought in the Mexican Revolution of 1910. For the next seven years he served as personal telegraph operator to General Pancho Villa. In 1919 Pedro married Maria Salcido and they settled on the family ranch in Mexico. In the turmoil that followed the revolution, times were very hard.” An epilogue precedes end credits: “Pedro J. Gonzalez was released on parole and deported to Mexico in 1940 after spending six years in prison. Maria and Pedro were reunited in Tijuana, Mexico, where they settled until 1972, when he was allowed to return to the United States. In 1985, a formal petition for Pedro’s pardon was denied by the California Governor’s office. Pedro and Maria presently live in San Ysidro, California.”
       Opening credits list the first name of actor Eduardo Ricard as “Edwardo,” while end credits correctly spell his name “Eduardo.”
       According to an article in the 9 Dec 1984 LAT, writer-director Isaac Artenstein became interested in the story of musician and radio personality Pedro J. Gonzalez while directing Ballad of an Unsung Hero, an award-winning documentary that aired on 22 Dec 1984 on Public Broadcasting Company (PBS) stations KCET-TV and KOCE-TV. Artenstein was working on a deal with the National Film Production Corporation of Mexico (Conacine) and Cinewest Productions to co-produce the film, with the stipulation that a majority of filming be shot in Mexico, and that Cinewest Productions’ would procure half the film’s $1.4 million budget. On 29 Jan 1985, the HR stated that the film was one of “several new film projects on the production board for 1985” for Conacine. However, there were no further reports of Conacine’s participation in the production. The 29 Jan 1985 HR stated that cinematographer “Gabrielle [sic] Figueroa” was attached to the picture, yet there are no reports of Figueroa’s remaining with the film. It was further reported by 9 Dec 1984 LAT that Mexican actors Fernando Allende and Ofelia Medina were being looked at for starring roles, but there are no further reports of either of their involvement.
       Although a 9 Sep 1986 DV production chart reported principal photography was scheduled to begin on 20 Sep 1986 in Mexico City, Mexico, a 31 Dec 1986 Var production chart, referring to the title, The Break of Dawn, stated filming began on 27 Oct 1986 in San Diego, CA, with actor Pedro Armendariz, Jr. However, on a 31 Dec 1987 DV production chart, Armendariz, Jr.’s name was not listed, and actor Oscar Chavez was credited. There were no further reports of Armendariz, Jr.’s participation in the production. A 15 Jan 1987 LAT article reported filming in San Diego’s downtown area, Golden Hill and Barrio Logan. The film’s budget was said to be $1 million by the 26 Aug 1988 LAT, while the 10 Mar 1989 DV listed the budget as $1.2 million, and 10 Mar 1989 LA Weekly reported $850,000.
       The 22 Jan 1988 DV review stated the picture was shown on 20 Jan 1988 at the U.S. Film Festival in Park City, UT, followed by a “world-premiere run” at the Hillcrest Guild Theatre in San Diego, CA, beginning 26 Aug 1988, as reported by the LAT of the same date. The 28 Sep 1988 Var review stated the film was also screened at the Toronto Festival of Festivals on 12 Sep 1988. Despite the success of Latino-based Hollywood feature films, including La Bamba (1987, see entry) and Stand and Deliver (1988, see entry), Cinewest Productions was unable to find a distributor for the picture. According to a 10 Mar 1989 DV article, distribution company Platform Releasing was created by “the filmmakers … deciding to handle the release themselves.” The film opened at various Los Angeles, CA, venues, including Nuart Theatre in West Los Angeles, and “four Spanish language theaters,” with a cost of $150,000 for advertisement and publicity.
       Although there is a 1988 copyright statement on the film for Break of Dawn Partners, Inc., it was not registered for copyright at the time of its release. The Million Dollar Video Corporation release was registered for copyright on 17 Apr 1991 under the number PA0000542808.

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GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
9 Sep 1986
p. 7
Daily Variety
31 Dec 1987
p. 8
Daily Variety
22 Jan 1988
p. 97
Daily Variety
10 Mar 1989
p. 6
Hollywood Reporter
29 Jan 1985
---
LA Weekly
10 Mar 1989
p. 37
Los Angeles Times
9 Dec 1984
Section S, p. 86
Los Angeles Times
15 Jan 1987
Metro, p. 1
Los Angeles Times
26 Aug 1988
Calendar, p. 1
Variety
31 Dec 1986
p. 6
Variety
28 Sep 1988
p. 30
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Break of Dawn Partners And Cinewest Productions Present
A Jude Pauline Eberhard Production Of
An Isaac Artenstein Film
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
1st asst dir
Unit prod mgr, Prod
Key 2d asst dir, Prod
2d asst dir, Prod
2d asst dir, Prod
Addl 2d asst dir, Prod
PRODUCER
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
1st asst cam, Cam
2d asst cam/2d cam op, Cam
Cam dept trainee, Cam
Gaffer, Elec
Best boy, Elec
Elec, Elec
Key grip, Grip
Dolly grip, Grip
Dolly grip, Grip
Grip, Grip
Grip, Grip
Still photog, Stills
Addl stills, Stills
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Art dir
Asst to prod des, Art
Art dept asst, Art
2d unit art des, Art
FILM EDITORS
Asst ed, Editing
Apprentice, Editing
Intern, Editing
Intern, Editing
Intern, Editing
Intern, Editing
Intern, Editing
Intern, Editing
Intern, Editing
Intern, Editing
Negative cutting, Post prod
SET DECORATORS
Set dec, Art
Set dec, Art
Prop master, Art
Asst prop master, Art
Asst prop master, Art
Lead person, Art
Set dresser, Art
Set dresser, Art
Set const, Art
Set const, Art
Scenic artist, Art
Sign painter, Art
Sign painter, Art
Mural art, Art
Mural art, Art
Prop food, Art
COSTUMES
Key seamstress, Ward
Cost supv, Ward
Cost asst, Ward
Extras ward coord, Ward
2d unit ward, Ward
MUSIC
Mus score
Performance mus coord and dir, Mus
Casino quintet, Mus
Casino quintet, Mus
Casino quintet, Mus
Casino quintet, Mus
Casino quintet, Mus
Quintet arrangements, Mus
Performance mus recorded at, Mus
Score copyist, Mus
Score copyist, Mus
Mus ed, Editing
Mus score eng, Post prod
Mus score eng, Post prod
SOUND
Sd mixer, Sd
Boom op, Sd
Bill Scott
Cableman, Sd
Sd eff ed and rec, Editing
ADR ed, Editing
Foley ed, Editing
Sd eff asst, Editing
Supv re-rec mixer, Post prod
Re-rec mixer, Post prod
Foley artist, Post prod
Foley/ADR eng, Post prod
Sd eff rec, Post prod
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff, Spec prod services
Opt eff, Opticals and titles
Main title seq, Opticals and titles
Typesetting, Opticals and titles
MAKEUP
Makeup/Hair supv, Makeup and hair
Key makeup artist, Makeup and hair
Key makeup artist, Makeup and hair
Hair stylist, Makeup and hair
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Prod coord
Historical research
Scr supv, Prod
Bill Scott
Loc coord, Prod
Accountant, Prod
Payroll service, Prod
Unit pub, Prod
Scr supv trainee, Prod
Prod secy, Prod
Assoc casting dir, Casting
Extras casting dir, Casting
Extras casting dir, Casting
Asst extras coord, Casting
Caterer, Set operations
Craft services, Set operations
2d unit craft services, Set operations
Transportation coord, Transportation
Driver, Transportation
Driver, Transportation
Driver, Transportation
Driver, Transportation
Picture vehicle coord, Spec prod services
Bi-National coord, Spec prod services
Bi-National liaison, Spec prod services
Bi-National liaison, Spec prod services
Dailies projectionist, Spec prod services
Translations, Spec prod services
Translations, Spec prod services
Dial coach, Spec prod services
Asst to the prod, Spec prod services
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Intern
Intern
Intern
Intern
Creative, Consultants
Historical, Consultants
Story, Consultants
Mus, Consultants
Mus, Consultants
Radio, Consultants
Prod, Consultants
Prod, Consultants
Exec vice president, Saul Zaentz Film Center
Facility mgr, Saul Zaentz Film Center
Administrative asst, Saul Zaentz Film Center
Transfer supv, Saul Zaentz Film Center
Transfer op, Saul Zaentz Film Center
Transfer op, Saul Zaentz Film Center
Ed, Saul Zaentz Film Center
Ed, Saul Zaentz Film Center
Eng, Saul Zaentz Film Center
Eng, Saul Zaentz Film Center
Lab, Post prod
Insurance, Post prod
Bill Hudson
Insurance, Post prod
Legal, Post prod
Legal, Post prod
UCLA Film and Television Archive, Archival footage
Mgr. Commercial Service
Sherman Grinberg Film Libraries, Archival footage
Librarian
STAND INS
Stunt coord, Spec prod services
SOURCES
SONGS
“Corrido Villista,” written by Garrido and Cortázar, performed by Oscar Chávez; “Sonora Querida,” written by Pedro J. González, performed by Oscar Chávez; “El Deportado,” P.D., performed by Oscar Chávez; “Dos Seres Que Se Aman,” written by Pedro J. González, performed by Oscar Chávez; “La Cruz Azul,” written by Pedro J. González, performed by Oscar Chávez; “El Corrido De Pedro J. González,” written by Victor and Jesús Sánchez, performed by Martín and Lupe Ramirez; “Amanecer Ranchero,” written by Lorenzo Barcelata, performed by Oscar Chávez, Martín and Lupe Ramirez; “Ya La Luna Va Saliendo,” written by Pedro J. González, performed by Oscar Chávez, Martín and Lupe Ramirez; “Negra Consentida,” written by Joaquín Pardavé, performed by Oscar Chávez, Martín and Lupe Ramirez; “Sueños De Oro,” written by Valente and González, performed by Oscar Chávez, Martín and Lupe Ramirez; “Cuesta Abajo,” written by Gardel and Le Pera, performed by Aixa Moreno and the Casino Quintet; “Rompiendo La Rutina,” written by Aniceto Díaz, performed by Coral Thuet and the Casino Quintet; “Perfume De Gardenia,” written by Rafael Hernández, performed by the Casino Quintet; “Lamento Borinquen,” written by Rafael Hernández, performed by the Casino Quintet; “Worried Man Blues,” written by A. P. Carter, performed by Nicki Brikett and Ron Jackson; “Gospel Ship,” written by A. P. Carter, performed by Nicki Brikett and Ron Jackson; “Gold Watch And Chain,” written by A. P. Carter, performed by Nicki Brikett and Ron Jackson; “You’re Just A Dream Come True,” written by Jones and Newman, performed by Isham Jones and his Orchestra; “La Borrachita,” written by Ignacío Fernandez Esperón, performed by Antonio Bribiesca; “Tiger Rag,” written by DeCosta and La Rocca, performed by The Mills Brothers; “Minnie The Moocher,” written by Calloway, Mills, and Gaskill, performed by Cab Calloway and his Orchestra.
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
The Break of Dawn
Release Date:
26 August 1988
Premiere Information:
U.S. Film Festival in Park City, UT: Jan 1988; San Diego opening: 26 Aug 1988; Los Angeles opening: 8 Mar 1989
Production Date:
began 27 Oct 1986
Copyright Info
Claimant
Date
Copyright Number
Million Dollar Video Corporation
17 April 1991
PA0000542808
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Duration(in mins):
100 or 105
Country:
United States
Language:
English
SYNOPSIS

In 1938 at San Quentin prison in California, inmate Pedro J. Gonzalez recalls immigrating to the United States ten years ago with his wife, Maria. After paying the immigration fee to cross the United States-Mexico border into California, they arrive in Los Angeles at the home of Pedro’s cousin, Hector Gonzalez, and his wife, Matilde. That evening, Pedro plays the guitar and sings a Spanish ballad about Mexican Revolutionary Pancho Villa. Knowing Pedro was Villa’s personal telegraph operator, Matilde asks about him. Pedro says Villa had been a gifted leader, and cared for his troops. The next day, Hector receives a telephone call from Captain Gene Rodriguez, of the Los Angeles Police Department, who is in need of a mechanic. As Hector and Pedro drive to the police station, Pedro asks if there are any local Spanish-language radio programs. Hector tells him no. At the station, Hector and Gene finalize the cost of repairs as District Attorney Kyle Mitchell walks by. Hector tells Pedro that Mitchell is the “main man” of Los Angeles. Later, Pedro goes to local radio station KMPC with his guitar looking for a job. However, station manger, Charlie Wolfe, tells him the station does not play Spanish music. Discouraged, Pedro leaves. Outside at a shoeshine stand, Pedro listens to the station’s live broadcast and translates a sponsor’s commercial from English to Spanish. Returning to Charlie, Pedro says that if commercials were broadcast in Spanish, sponsors’ products would reach the city’s Spanish-speaking communities. Charlie gives Pedro a chance and lets him read the transcribed commercial on the air. Impressed by ...

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In 1938 at San Quentin prison in California, inmate Pedro J. Gonzalez recalls immigrating to the United States ten years ago with his wife, Maria. After paying the immigration fee to cross the United States-Mexico border into California, they arrive in Los Angeles at the home of Pedro’s cousin, Hector Gonzalez, and his wife, Matilde. That evening, Pedro plays the guitar and sings a Spanish ballad about Mexican Revolutionary Pancho Villa. Knowing Pedro was Villa’s personal telegraph operator, Matilde asks about him. Pedro says Villa had been a gifted leader, and cared for his troops. The next day, Hector receives a telephone call from Captain Gene Rodriguez, of the Los Angeles Police Department, who is in need of a mechanic. As Hector and Pedro drive to the police station, Pedro asks if there are any local Spanish-language radio programs. Hector tells him no. At the station, Hector and Gene finalize the cost of repairs as District Attorney Kyle Mitchell walks by. Hector tells Pedro that Mitchell is the “main man” of Los Angeles. Later, Pedro goes to local radio station KMPC with his guitar looking for a job. However, station manger, Charlie Wolfe, tells him the station does not play Spanish music. Discouraged, Pedro leaves. Outside at a shoeshine stand, Pedro listens to the station’s live broadcast and translates a sponsor’s commercial from English to Spanish. Returning to Charlie, Pedro says that if commercials were broadcast in Spanish, sponsors’ products would reach the city’s Spanish-speaking communities. Charlie gives Pedro a chance and lets him read the transcribed commercial on the air. Impressed by Pedro’s on-air demeanor, Charlie hires him. Days later while Hector and Pedro are at a Mexican market, police officers arrive upon the orders of District Attorney Mitchell and his re-election campaign promises to strengthen the city’s immigrant deportation policy. Hector and Pedro run, but Hector is caught. Three days later, Hector returns home after re-crossing the border, saying that he was sent to Mexicali, Mexico. Pedro goes to work and reads the KMPC commercials. Afterward, he starts to play his guitar and sing in Spanish, requesting listeners to call the station if they like the music. Upset at Pedro’s stunt, Charlie fires him. Later, Charlie telephones Pedro and says people have been calling all day for more Spanish music. Pedro agrees to return to KMPC if he is given his own program with music and commercials in Spanish. Charlie agrees. Pedro’s 5 a.m. morning program, Early Riser, becomes popular throughout the city. At the District Attorney’s office, Gene Rodriguez suggests that Mitchell advertise on Pedro’s show to gain more votes from the city’s Latino community. Intrigued, Mitchell agrees. Rodriguez arrives at KMPC and convinces Pedro it would be beneficial to air Mitchell’s campaign advertisements. In the evening, Pedro and Maria attend a dinner party recognizing Consul Davila of the Mexican Consulate for raising money for families affected by the city’s deportation raids. Later, Manuel Rosalez, a sponsor of Early Riser, introduces Pedro to his sixteen-year-old stepdaughter, Linda Galvan. Learning that Linda is in the running for queen of the Fiestas Patrias celebrations, Pedro offers to endorse her. Days later, Pedro interviews Consul Davila about deportation stings on his show. Mitchell tells Rodriguez he is worried that the interview will cost him votes, but Mitchell is re-elected. That evening, Pedro is invited to Mitchell’s re-election party. While there, local nightclub singer Elsa Barron introduces him to tango singer Amparo Quintero. Elsewhere, Mitchell meets gaming club owner Mr. Silver and is offered a bribe. Though Mitchell initially rejects the money, Rodriguez urges him to take the money. Afterward, Mitchell meets Pedro and tells him to stop talking with Consul Davila. As a token of thanks, Mitchell gives Pedro papers stating he is a political exile, protecting him and his family from deportation. Later, after Pedro and Amparo talk about their love of music, they go to Amparo’s apartment and spend the night together. The following morning at KMPC, Maria questions Pedro about his whereabouts the night before. While he lies to her about the party going longer than expected, Consul Davila calls, requesting Pedro attend a union rally in El Monte that evening. Pedro arrives as Consul Davila talks about the deportation raids affecting workers’ rights. Suddenly, a raid occurs. Later, Pedro speaks against Mitchell and his deportation program. Annoyed with Pedro for not taking the exile status offer, Mitchell orders Rodriguez to stop Pedro. Meanwhile, Manuel Rosalez attempts to force himself on his stepdaughter Linda, but she refuses his advances and runs away. While alone at KMPC, Pedro finds Linda crying and begging for a job. He agrees to help her find work in the morning and walks her to the front door. As Linda leaves the station, Rodriguez sees her and picks her up for vagrancy. The following morning, Linda is released to her mother and stepfather. Rodriguez and Mrs. Nolan, a city employee, tell Manuel Rosalez that Linda was seen leaving KMPC and threaten to send her to reform school the next time she is picked up by law enforcement. Later, Charlie and Maria inform Pedro as he arrives for work that Manuel Rosalez pulled all of his advertisements from Early Riser. Maria says they cannot afford to lose any more sponsors, but Pedro is not bothered and leaves. In the evening, Maria returns home, but Pedro is not there. Elsewhere, Frankie Martinez, a well-dressed hoodlum, recognizes Linda from the Fiestas Patrias and invites her to the Club Azteca, a nightclub, for a drink. Later, Elsa Barron joins them and suggests they go the Plaza Hotel. As they leave, Rodriguez follows and arrests Linda and Elsa for prostitution and pandering. Rodriguez and Mrs. Nolan tell Elsa and Linda that if they will say that Pedro raped Linda, they would not be charged. After they agree, charges are filed against Pedro and he is arrested for statutory rape. At the jail, Maria and lawyer Julia Voitek visit Pedro. When Julia asks about his whereabouts on the night in question, he admits he was with his mistress, Amparo. Upset by his confession, Maria leaves. During the trial, Linda takes the witness stand and accuses Pedro of raping her, while Elsa states she tried to stop him. During cross-examination, Julia Voitek asks the women questions pertaining to the hotel’s name, the color of Pedro’s suit and his car. However, their answers are not the same. As the jury deliberates, Rodriguez offers Pedro probation if he agrees to plead guilty. However, Pedro declines. The jury finds Pedro guilty of first-degree rape and sentences him to prison for fifty years. Arriving at San Quentin prison, Pedro is told by the captain of the guards that if he signs the probation papers, he will be free. Pedro again refuses. Maria pleads on air, telling Pedro’s listeners that Mitchell is silencing him. Hearing about the outpouring of donated money, Mitchell meets with Rodriguez and reprimands him for his flimsy plan to frame Pedro. Later, Linda calls Maria and asks if they can meet. At the Mexican Consulate the following day, Linda recounts to Maria, Julia and Consul Davila about being coerced into falsely accusing Pedro. They go to see Pedro’s trial judge and Linda recants her testimony. However, Judge Yancey says the timeframe for appeal has passed. Meanwhile, Mitchell, fearing a recall election, hires two men to suppress any evidence supporting Pedro. Late at night, Rodriguez meets Consul Davila at the Mexican Consulate with papers proving Mitchell and the mayor took bribes. While they meet, Mitchell’s hired men watch them. The next morning, the men plant a bomb in Consul Davila’s car, which explodes when he turns on the ignition switch. However, Consul Davila and the evidence survive, and Mitchell is taken to trial, found guilty, and removed from office. In 1940, after six years in prison, Pedro is freed. However, he is deported to Mexico. In 1972, Pedro is allowed to return to the United States.

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Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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