(Los Angeles, CA) September 4, 2014 – Latino Public Broadcasting (LPB) will premiere new online short films on PBS.org as part of its celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month. Frontera! Revolt and Rebellion on the Río Grande is an animated short from award-winning Chicano media artist John Jota Leaños and the three-part New American Girls profiles three “DREAMers,” part of the estimated 1.8 million young adults brought to the U.S. as children by undocumented parents who remain stuck in limbo, without a pathway to citizenship. These new shorts will be available for online viewing at http://www.pbs.org/specials/hispanic-heritage-month/, premiering on September 15.
John Jota Leaños’ unconventional Frontera! uses humor, hip hop and comic book style animation to tell the fascinating story of the Pueblo Revolt of 1680. After years of drought, hunger, colonial violence and religious persecution brought the indigenous societies of New Mexico to the brink of collapse, the Pueblo people orchestrated the unthinkable: a pan-Indian uprising that successfully expelled the Spanish occupiers from the entire Rio Grande region and led to an indigenous cultural and social renaissance. Told through the diverse voices, aesthetic sensibilities, and storytelling talent of established Pueblo Indian and Chicana/o artists, Frontera! is a wildly original look at the history of the deeply contested US-Mexico borderlands.
New American Girls, produced by Mitchell Teplitsky and Betty Bastidas, profiles three remarkable young women raised and educated in the U.S. who are aiming for careers in medicine, law and education. Brought here as young children by undocumented parents, they can’t work legally and even risk deportation. Mandeep, Lorella and Kassandra are three of the thousands of DREAMers who have come forward with their stories. Their actions helped push forward the Obama administration’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program in 2012, enabling thousands to receive temporary two-year work permits and deferrals from deportation. But as the clock ticks down, their futures remains uncertain.
Mandeep was brought to the Bay Area as a child by her Indian parents. In her second year in the honors pre-med program at UC Davis, she was suddenly informed that she was being deported in two weeks. Through a viral social media campaign led by her best friend, Mandeep’s deportation was put on hold and she became an eloquent spokesperson for the burgeoning DREAM movement.
Born in Peru, Lorella lost her leg in a car accident and her parents brought her to the United States for medical treatment. When she was ten, Lorella and her mother moved to Connecticut, where she excelled at school but, as an undocumented immigrant, did not quality for in-state college tuition. Lorella became an activist for the DREAM movement, was instrumental in changing Connecticut’s in-state tuition rule, and is now director of advocacy and policy for the United We Dream Network.
Kassandra was brought from Mexico to New York City with her family as a child. A promising student, she graduated from Flushing High School, now attends Manhattan Community College and has become involved in DREAM Act advocacy with Make the Road New York, an immigrants rights group.
In addition to these online premieres, several recent LPB-funded programs will air on public television stations during Hispanic Heritage Month including the acclaimed series The Latino Americans; Ruben Salazar: Man in the Middle; Rebel; the Independent Lens films Precious Knowledge, The Graduates and The State Of Arizona; and the POV film Reportero (check local listings.)
About the Filmmakers
Frontera! Revolt and Rebellion on the Río Grande
John Jota Leaños (Producer) is an award-winning Chicano new media artist using animation, documentary and performance focusing on the convergence of memory, social space and decolonization. Leaños’ animation work has been shown internationally at festivals and museums including the Sundance Film Festival, the Morelia International Film Festival, San Francisco International Festival of Animation, the KOS Convention 07, and the Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego. Leaños has also exhibited at the 2002 and 2008 Whitney Biennial in New York, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Leaños is a Guggenheim Fellow in Film (2012), Creative Capital Foundation Grantee and has been an artist in residence at the University of California, Santa Barbara in the Center for Chicano Studies, Carnegie Mellon University in the Center for Arts in Society, and the Headlands Center for the Arts. Leaños is currently an Associate Professor of Social Documentary at the University of California, Santa Cruz.
Frontera! features the diverse voices, aesthetic sensibilities, and storytelling talent of established Pueblo Indian and Chicana/o artists, including Conroy Chino (Acoma Pueblo); Warren Montoya (Santa Ana and Santa Clara Pueblos), an award-winning visual artist; Lee Moquino (Santa Clara Pueblo), a traditional artist and spiritual leader; Andrea Serrano, a renowned Chicana spoken-word poet from Albuquerque; with an original score by Cristóbal Martinez, a member of the acclaimed Native artist collective, Post-Commodity. The project included a number of renowned scholars including Dr. Aimee Villarreal (University of New Mexico), Dr. Robert Purcell (Brown University), the late Dr. Linda Cordell and Matthew Liebmann (Harvard University), author of Revolt: An Archaeological History of Pueblo Resistance and Revitalization in 17th Century New Mexico.
New American Girls
Mitchell Teplitsky (producer/director) is a documentary producer specializing in cross-cultural stories based in New York City. His first partnership with LPB was Soy Andina, a documentary about two dancers in New York who journey to Peru to reconnect with their roots, which premiered on LPB’s VOCES series in 2008. Teplitsky keeps returning to Peru and in 2012 was awarded a Fulbright grant to co-produce Perephia, a multimedia magazine about Andean culture. He is currently developing a sequel to Soy Andina.
Betty Bastidas (co-producer/director, camera) is an award-winning filmmaker, photographer and educator based in Ft. Greene, Brooklyn, and co-founder of Maracuya Productions. She was born in Ecuador and came to the U.S. at the age of nine. As an immigrant child, Bastidas found the camera to be a tool for exploring and understanding her new surroundings and navigating the two cultures in which she found herself sandwiched —American and Latino. She is nearing completion on her feature documentary DreamTown, about Afro-Ecuadorian soccer players, and teaches documentary filmmaking to youth as a Teaching Artist for the Tribeca Film Institute.
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About Latino Public Broadcasting
Latino Public Broadcasting (LPB) is the leader in 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 public broadcasting stations and other public telecommunication entities. Latino Public Broadcasting provides a voice to the diverse Latino community throughout the United States and is funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
Latino Public Broadcasting produces the series VOCES, PBS’s signature Latino arts and culture documentary showcase and the only ongoing national television series devoted to exploring and celebrating the rich diversity of the Latino cultural experience. Between 2009 and 2014, LPB programs have won 85 awards, including the prestigious George Foster Peabody Award as well as two Emmys, two Imagen Awards and the Sundance Film Festival Award for Best Director, Documentary. In addition, LPB has been the recipient of the Norman Lear Legacy Award and the NCLR Alma Award for Special Achievement – Year in Documentaries.
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