The VOCES series returns this Fall with two new documentaries about Latino lives in the U.S.
Latino Public Broadcasting has announced the premiere of Building the American Dream and Voto Latino as part of PBS election special programming.
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The Latino community has been part of the civil rights struggle in the United States since its very beginning; however, 2020 has been a year full of challenges for Latinos in the U.S. that will end at the polls. That's why it's more necessary than ever to make the history and lives of Hispanic people — and their diversity — visible in the country.
That's the goal that led Latino Public Broadcasting (LPB) to announce two new documentaries in the series VOCES, which explores Latino lives, and will premiere this fall on PBS as a hymn to democracy and its community leaders, and a warning that there is still much to do in the fight for the rights of Hispanics.
The first of these, which will premiere on September 15, is Building the American Dream, by filmmaker Chelsea Hernandez, which focuses on the situation of immigrant construction workers in Texas and their demands for justice in an industry marked by exploitation.
The second, Latino Vote: Dispatches from the Battleground, by Bernardo Ruiz, will be launched on October 6, and follows efforts to mobilize the Latino electorate for the crucial election.
"We are proud to present these two timely documentaries in what has become an exceptionally challenging year for the Latino community," said Sandie Viquez Pedlow, LPB Executive Director and Executive Producer of VOCES.
Víquez also pointed out that while Building the American Dream reveals "how immigrants often work in dangerous conditions and are denied the benefits to which they are entitled," Latino Vote is the political angle on the claim, since "with Latinos about to become the largest non-white voting bloc in November, it is more important than ever that the concerns of our community become part of the national conversation."
Produced and directed by Mexican-American filmmaker Chelsea Hernandez, considered one of the top ten rising talents in film by Texas Monthly, the documentary follows the lives of construction workers in Texas, mostly migrant laborers facing an abusive situation. However, the workers don't bow their heads. The film brings us hard stories like that of a Mexican family that has lost its son, but is campaigning for a safety law that allows workers to take 10-minute breaks every four hours of work. It also explores the harsh odyssey of a couple from El Salvador who are qualified electricians that are owed thousands of dollars in back pay.
In short, they are stories of resistance and courage from those who build the American dream.
Twice nominated for an Emmy, director/producer Bernardo Ruiz is a veteran of the documentary scene, having worked on numerous occasions on HBO and PBS productions, among others. This time, Ruiz shed light on the work we've been witnessing the past months in the race for the election and the search for the Latino vote, especially in swing states.
How are the campaigns in states like Florida, Texas or Pennsylvania going? What is the discourse the parties are using to try to convince the Latino community? The battle between community organizers, activists and political operatives is making history, and it is expected that Latinos will not only be decisive for a change in government, but for the future of the country.