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Awards Go to 14 Film and Digital Media Projects that Tell Powerful, Up-to-the-Minute Stories Reflecting the Rich Diversity of the Latinx Experience

Los Angeles, CA (January 28, 2021) – Latino Public Broadcasting (LPB) today announced its latest funding recipients, including three projects funded through the Current Issues Content Fund, made possible by a generous grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. The remaining eleven projects were funded through LPB’s 2020 Public Media Content Fund.

This year’s awardees tell particularly timely stories, from North Carolina to Texas to California from Puerto Rico to Mexico to Venezuela, and many reflect the enormous impact that the past year has had on the Latino community. From the COVID-19 pandemic to a renewed focus on the devastation wrought by poverty and inequality, these films offer an on-the-ground look at the diversity of experience of Latinos here and abroad.

“In a year when the concept of ‘home’ has had more resonance than ever, one of the themes that unites these projects is an exploration of the yearning for home, whether it’s the immigrant’s complex connection to their native land (Lo Que Dejamos Atras, Los Desobedientes, Traces of Home) or the struggle of a community fighting to stand its ground in the midst of change (Bartolo, Slumlord Millionaire),” says LPB Executive Director Sandie Viquez Pedlow. “This year’s projects tell stories that explore complex and timely issues through a moving, personal lens.”

More digital projects were funded during this cycle than ever before in an effort to continue nurturing emerging filmmakers, many of whom have been hit particularly hard during the pandemic.  Says Pedlow, “We wanted to keep fueling the creativity of all Latino makers and enable them to create in a variety of formats, especially in a year where much of traditional filmmaking was shut down. We’re proud to support all of our passionate media makers and look forward to bringing their work to a wide audience on PBS’s broadcast and digital platforms.”

Every year LPB invites independent filmmakers to submit proposals for production, post-production and digital support.  All submissions are reviewed by a group of public media professionals, including journalists, independent filmmakers, and executives from national funding organizations.  Below is a list of awarded projects:

Broadcast Projects

Director/Producer: Leandro Fabrizi Rios
Producer: Neyda Martínez
Funding: Current Issues Fund
Tucked into the rural coffee-growing mountainside of remote western Puerto Rico is a tiny hamlet, Bartolo. It is home to an isolated agricultural community of just 12 families, landless and chronically impoverished, and longing for a new start following Hurricane Maria. The community seizes on a chance for a new beginning when a veteran organizer from outside of Bartolo comes to town with a radical new plan.

Niños de Las Brisas (Children of Las Brisas)
Director/Producer: Marianela Maldonado
Funding: Current Issues Fund
In Venezuela’s deadly Las Brisas district, three talented young musicians living amid poverty, crime and political turmoil, find hope for a better future in a local youth orchestra. Shot over eight years, the film follows the trio from childhood to young adulthood, as they pursue their dream of becoming professional musicians against seemingly overwhelming odds.

Slumlord Millionaire
Directors/Producers: Ellen Martinez, Steph Ching
Funding: Current Issues Fund
Today, seven Manhattan and Brooklyn zip codes are among the 20 most gentrified neighborhoods in the United States and New York City rents have gone up an average of 31% in the past eight years. Many landlords are eager to get rid of long-term tenants and use various tactics, including cutting off heat and gas, refusing to make repairs and ignoring vermin infestations. This documentary profiles a group of determined residents and dedicated nonprofit attorneys fighting corrupt landlords for the fundamental human right to a home, more critical than ever during a deadly pandemic.

Lo Que Dejamos Atras (What We Leave Behind)
Director/Producer: Iliana Sosa
Funding: Public Media Content Fund
For as long as she can remember, filmmaker Sosa’s grandfather Julián has traveled from his home in Durango, Mexico, to El Paso once a month to visit her and her mother. Now 89 and unable to make the journey, he begins building a new house in his rural Mexican hometown, where he lives with his blind son Jorge. The film follows Julián in the twilight of his life, as his granddaughter pieces together how their family has built and rebuilt home over decades of separation.

Los Desobedientes
Director: Rodrigo Dorfman
Funding: Public Media Content Fund
After 20 years of living in the U.S., an undocumented family decides to return home. Little do they know it will be the most difficult journey of their lives. Set between the rodeo rings of eastern North Carolina and the spellbinding Mexican hometown they long for, Los Desobedientes (The Disobedient Ones) is a story of reverse migration, rebellion and redemption.

Silent Beauty
Director/Producer: Jasmin Mara López
Funding: Public Media Content Fund
Silent Beauty is a moving autobiographical exploration of the filmmaker’s history with child sexual abuse, the culture of silence, and journey of healing as her public acknowledgment of the abuse helps her connect with her family over their shared trauma.

Traces of Home
Director/Producer: Colette Ghunim
Funding: Public Media Content Fund
In an attempt to discover her roots, filmmaker Colette Ghunim embarks on a journey with her parents to find their ancestral homes in Mexico and Palestine after being forced to leave decades ago. While navigating physical borders in both lands, her family’s internal barriers break down, exposing the traumas that forced them to leave and continue to challenge dynamics together.

Exodus Stories: Voices from the Caravan
Director/Producer: Ilse Fernandez
Funding: Public Media Content Fund
Escape, journey, hope. A dangerous 2,600-mile mass exodus to a promised land where a border separates a Central American nightmare from the American dream. Through intimate access, this powerful documentary follows three immigrants fleeing threats and violence as they journey on the Migrant Caravan through Mexico to an uncertain wait at the U.S. border to seek refuge. Amid anti-immigrant rhetoric, each must face their most decisive battle yet: staking their claim for asylum during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Paquito d’Rivera: From Carne y Frijol to Carnegie Hall
Director/Producer: Juan Mandelbaum
Funding: Public Media Content Fund
Research and Development for the story of jazz legend Paquito d’Rivera’s extraordinary journey from child prodigy in Havana, Cuba to 14-time Grammy winner international music artist and composer.

Digital Media 

El Paisa
Director/Producer: Daniel Eduvijes Carrera/Co-producer: Jana Diaz-Juhl
Funding: Public Media Content Fund
This short narrative comedy follows Queer skater punk Fernando, who undergoes an empowering transformation after his encounter with a charming vaquero on the streets of East Los Angeles.

Mi Casa
Director/Producer: Esau Melendez
Producer: Mario Contreras
Funding: Public Media Content Fund
Descendants of the first Mexican immigrants in Aurora, Illinois, who came in the early 20th century to build new lives as railroad workers in nearby Chicago, recall their family stories about the boxcar communities in which they lived and thrived.

My Queerceañera
Director/Producer: Marcos Nieves
Funding: Public Media Content Fund
Upon turning 50 years old, Karyna, a transgender immigrant from Mexico living in Arizona, is determined to fulfill her lifelong dream of celebrating her Quinceañera even if her family and society do not fully accept her.

The Next Message
Directors/Producers: Jennifer Maytorena Taylor, Mustafa Davis
Funding: Public Media Content Fund
Set during the ongoing pandemic of COVID-19 and police violence, The Next Message explores the complex and compelling unfolding story of the Latinx/African American Abdul-Shakur family, featured in the 2017 PBS special The Talk. Four years later, the family cares for their loved ones and their larger communities in a time of unprecedented crises and opportunities for change.

When It’s Good, It’s Good
Director/Producer: Alejandra Vasquez
Funding: Public Media Content Fund
Filmed over four years and two election cycles, the film offers an insider’s look at the filmmaker’s hometown of Denver City, Texas, a rural West Texas town struggling to survive through the boom-and-bust cycle of the oil industry.

About Latino Public Broadcasting
Latino Public Broadcasting (LPB) is the leader in the development, production, acquisition and distribution of film and digital cultural media that is representative of Latino people or addresses issues of particular interest to Latino Americans. These programs are produced for dissemination to public broadcasting stations and other public media entities. Providing a voice for the diverse Latino community throughout the United States, Latino Public Broadcasting is funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.  LPB also produces the acclaimed PBS documentary series VOCES, exploring the rich diversity of the Latino experience. VOCES presents new and established filmmakers and brings their powerful and illuminating stories to a national audience — on TV, online and on the PBS app.

Between 2009 and 2020, LPB programs won over 130 awards, including three prestigious George Foster Peabody Awards as well as Emmys, Imagen Awards and the Sundance Film Festival Award for Best Director, Documentary. LPB has been the recipient of the Norman Lear Legacy Award and the NCLR Alma Award for Special Achievement – Year in Documentaries. Sandie Viquez Pedlow is executive director of LPB; Edward James Olmos is co-founder and chairman.



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Photo credits: bottom left: Slumlord Millionaire, credit: Steph Ching; top left: Niños de Las Brisas

Credit: Carolina Burbano; center: Los Desobedientes, credit: Rodrigo Dorfman; top right: Silent Beauty, credit: Bron Moyi; bottom right: Paquito d’Rivera, credit: Ricardo Ríos.


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About Us
Latino Public Broadcasting is the leader of the development, production, acquisition and distribution of non-commercial educational and cultural media that is representative of Latino people, or addresses issues of particular interest to Latino Americans. These programs are produced for dissemination to the public broadcasting stations and other public telecommunication entities. LPB provides a voice to the diverse Latino community on public media throughout the United States. Latino Public Broadcasting is a registered 501(c)(3), EIN: 95-4776447.
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