7 Latino Documentary Shorts to Watch Now
Latino documentary shorts tell the stories of our communities. In the span of anywhere from three to 30 minutes, you can discover the chronicles of teachers dedicated to migrant children, two bad hombres trying to get out the vote, an all-girl DJ collective, and more.
America ReFramed: Fields of Promise
Mireya isn’t even old enough for kindergarten, but she’s travelled with her migrant worker parents up and down the West Coast. All of that travelling and her parents’ long workdays make succeeding in a traditional school difficult. To help her succeed, she’s enrolled in Migrant Head Start where bilingual educators work with Mireya and other children in similar situations develop a love of learning and spark their curiosity. Fields of Promise is part of a larger documentary project called Class of ’27, which you can watch right now on PBS online. This preview gives you an idea of how tireless these teachers are, the problems they face, the families they impact and how determined they are to provide solid early education.
Postcards from the Great Divide: The Giant Still Sleeps
Filmed the summer before the 2016 presidential election, the documentary follows two Mexican-American Houstonians dedicated to engaging disenfranchised communities and inviting them to take part in the democratic process. The tireless Oscar del Toro is a one-man grassroots movement who tries to get people to the polls. Aspiring city councilman Cody Ray Wheeler who wants to impart the power of Latino representation in his city, which is about 70 percent Latino, yet sees only approximately 20 percent Latino representation in local government.
In it’s short, 8-minute span, the documentary is plainly honest showcasing both the wide knowledge gap that exists in some communities about voting and the widespread apathy that must change.
Arts in Context: Bidi Bidi Banda
How do you cover Selena? Ask Bidi Bidi Banda. The Texas-based tribute band takes on those songs that we all know too well. It’s a tough gig, considering how fervent Selena’s die hard fans are. But the band found that perfect blend of homage, modernity and celebration, and as a result, some of her fans are now their fans.
Arts in Context: Chulita Vinyl Club
A short from the Arts in Context series, this three-minute doc introduces viewers to the Chulita Vinyl Club, an all-woman DJ collective operating out of Texas and California. A mix of Latina, immigrant, or other women of color or marginalized communities, the collective is as much about sharing the individual DJs’ musical taste and talent as it is exploring identity through music – often consisting of vinyl passed down from older generations.
Arts in Context: Dos Lados de la Frontera/Two Sides of the Border
Discover the birth of Borderwave, an art type that is a bright and dynamic blend of pop art, expressionism, lettering, and border culture. It’s a term coined by Gerardo Arrellano, an Austin-based and Mexico-born artist. In this blink-and-you’ll-miss it 3 minute documentary short, the artist describes how he came to show his works at the Smithsonian and why he feels art is a language.
Re:Dream Raquel CastanedaLopez
In five short minutes, Re:Dream tells the story of Raquel Castaneda-Lopez the first Latina elected to Detroit’s city council. The daughter of two hard-working parents, Castaneda-Lopez works at the grassroots level, talking and connecting with her working-class constituents to represent them at and ensure they have a voice at the city level.
A Conversation with Latinos on Race, The New York Times Op-Docs
For so many of us, identity can be a sticky, complicated issue. Race, culture, acculturation, country of origin, class and language proficiency are all things that shape how we understand our Latinity. In a brief 6-and-a-half minute doc, a number of Latinos share their experiences with understanding and embracing their identities.
Screengrab of “Fields of Promise” by Nina Alvarez.