Film

12 Latino & Latin American Docs We Can’t Wait to See on PBS

Lead Photo: Image courtesy of LBP and PBS.
Image courtesy of LBP and PBS.

The world of public broadcasting has given us a steady stream of excellent Latino content. Just two weeks ago, PBS announced its collaboration with Latino Public Broadcasting that saw two new short films debut on the PBS streaming app, and last year, the network debuted the Raul Julia documentary, The World’s A Stage. Whether it’s their recent Hispanic Heritage Month spate of content or its anniversary marathon, PBS has always had open access to content made for and about our communities. And PBS is about the get more amazing Latino and Latin American content.

With the help of various funding grants, the Latino Public Broadcasting organization will release 12 documentaries set to premiere on PBS. Six of the documentaries include women directors. The content is diverse, focusing on everything from what’s happening at the border to healthcare to women in politics and the environmental crisis throughout Latin America.

Stand and Deliver actor Edward James Olmos, the co-founder and chairman of Latino Public Broadcasting, said in a prepared statement, “We’re very excited about this year’s funded projects. We have a high percentage of new filmmakers and there’s an urgency and passion and timelessness about their subject matter.”

Sandie Viquez Pedlow, executive director of the group, agreed, saying, “We’re proud to support these important filmmakers and bring their work to a national audience on PBS.”

There are currently no release dates for when these films will air on PBS. But in the meantime, we’re breaking down what’s on tap, with accompanying synopses courtesy of Latino Public Broadcasting. You’ll want to have all of these on your radar throughout the year.

1

Borderland

Image shot by Samantha Sais. Image courtesy of LPB.

“Americans risk it all to stand up to inhumane immigration policies in Borderlands. This powerful set of stories about ‘righteous persons,’ motivated by moral conviction and compassion, shows how courageous actions can lead to mobilization and the defense of human rights in the face of hate and discrimination.”

2

Exodus Stories: Voices from the Caravan

Image shot by Ilse Fernandez. Image courtesy of LPB.

“Exodus Stories is an interwoven portrait of three Central American migrants and their quest to be granted asylum in the United States. Fleeing from violence or political persecution, asylum is their last hope. Directed by Colombian-American filmmaker Ilse Fernandez, the film follows their arduous and dangerous 2,600-mile journey to a promised land, where a border separates their Central American nightmare from the American Dream.”

3

On the Divide

Image by Peter Quandt & On the Divide LLC. Image courtesy of LPB.

“On the Divide follows the story of three Latinx people who live in McAllen, Texas and are, despite their differences, connected to the most unexpected place: the last abortion clinic on the U.S./Mexico border.”

4

Salud de un Pueblo (working title)

Image by Bruno Santamaria. Image courtesy of LPB.

“Puerto Rican filmmaker Patricia Benabe (Memories of a Penitent Heart, Councilwoman) explores the fragile health care system in Puerto Rico, currently on the verge of collapse. Unable to afford medical care, a growing number of patients are leaving the island to seek treatment on the U.S. mainland, leaving local hospitals and medical service providers struggling to meet mounting operational costs.”

5

American Exile

Image courtesy of LPB. 

“Fifty years after they fought in Vietnam, two Mexican American brothers face deportation, and in the process of fighting for their rights, discover thousands of veterans who now struggle with the same fate.  The film will chronicle their journey as they fight to stay in the country they served and wage a broader campaign to bring public attention and help to America’s veterans.”

6

American Sons

Image courtesy of LPB. 

“American Sons explores the life and death of Marine Corporal JV Villareal, Jr. and the men who served and died with him in the Helmand province of Afghanistan. Through verité, interviews, reenactments and recovered footage shot by JV himself, this film explores what these men endured during those years and their fight to adapt to civilian life in the country they fought so hard to defend.”

7

And She Could Be Next

Image courtesy of LPB.

“In a polarized America, where the dual forces of white supremacy and patriarchy threaten to further erode our democracy, women of color are claiming power by running for political office. And She Could Be Next, made by a team of women filmmakers of color, asks whether democracy itself can be preserved — and made stronger — by those most marginalized. Set against the backdrop of the 2018 midterm elections, a defiant group of candidates including Stacey Abrams, Rashida Tlaib, Lucy McBath, Veronica Escobar, Maria Elena Durazo, and Deb Haaland, are participating in the contact sport of true democracy and changing the face of American leadership.”

8

Fruits of Labor

Image courtesy of LPB.

“Fruits of Labor is Colombian-American filmmaker Emily Cohen Ibañez’s coming of age story about a California teenager traversing the seen and unseen forces that keep her family trapped in a cycle of poverty. What does it mean to live a dignified life as a working-poor young woman of color in the wealthiest nation of the world?”

9

In the Pines

Image courtesy of LPB.

“In the Pines follows Raymundo Morales and his crew of Mexican planters over the course of a season planting trees in the U.S. for America’s largest tree-planting business. We witness with intimate detail the personal and professional struggles of men living and working together, each planting thousands of trees a day to support their families thousands of miles away in northern Oaxaca.”

10

Setting the Word on Fire

Image shot by Alejandro Stuart. Image courtesy of LPB.

“Through the life and work of writer Alejandro Murguia, Setting the Word on Fire explores the roles of activist writers and poets passionately involved with the social justice struggles of our times. Following in the footsteps of the Beat poets and inspired by the rich traditions of Spanish and Latin American literature, Murguia confronts with his work and his words many of the urgent issues of the day.”

11

Troubled Water

Image shot by Tim Russo. Image courtesy of LPB.

“Three Indigenous activists in Central and South America fight to stop multinational corporations from polluting their rivers and lakes, destroying their farming communities and threatening their way of life. The film follows as they brave death threats and murder and, in the process, reveals a troubling pattern of U.S. exploitation and political intrigue taking place throughout Latin America.”

12

UNTITLED

Image shot by Alejandro Mejia. Image courtesy of LPB.

“Mexican American director Rodrigo Reyes works as a Spanish court interpreter. After befriending a client, a young Latino defendant, during a gang-related murder trial, Rodrigo and his new friend begin collaborating to craft a multi-layered story about how the failures of immigration and opportunity intersect with the criminal justice system.”