From dramas to documentaries, comedies to magical realism, “The Latino Experience” showcases an exciting lineup of creative talent, both in front of and behind the camera. This three-part collection of nonfiction and fiction short films explores a broad collection of experiences, perspectives, and points of view to highlight the diversity of the Latinx community and to illuminate the vibrancy of the United States and Puerto Rico.
“We are excited to highlight and share ‘The Latino Experience,’ a compilation of shorts that showcase the wide-ranging talent, diversity and complexity within the Latinx community in the U.S. and abroad,” said Wendy Llinas, senior director of programming and development for PBS. “These narrative and scripted shorts reflect the joy, creativity, courage, humor, pain and resilience in our communities with top-notch authentic storytelling that reflects the many lived experiences of Latinx at this moment in history.”
Films included in “The Latino Experience” were selected from entries received by PBS following a call for submissions in August 2020. Chosen by a panel of experienced filmmakers, the shorts received funding support as well as a national broadcast as part of the series.
Episode 1 – Tuesday, July 6
“Death and Deathability: A Period Piece.” Mystified by the unexpected arrival of her first period, Ceci (Blanca Ordaz) concludes she must be dying. She prepares a bucket list to accomplish on her final day, including her first real kiss and her own funeral, because death should be an art. Written, directed and produced by Maria Victoria Ponce. Produced by Sofia Cortez, Vincent Cortez and Heather MacLean.
“Folk Frontera” is a magical-realist portrait of life in the borderlands. The film follows two fronteriza women as they struggle to find their place in the vast Chihuahuan Desert, a region whose culture is thousands of years old, but which is bisected by the U.S.-Mexico border.
Directed and produced by Alejandra Vasquez and Sam Osborn. “Folk Frontera” is a co-presentation of INDEPENDENT LENS.
“The Blue Cape” is set in hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico two months after Maria hit the island. Ten-year-old Junior (Yanniel A. Arce Rivera) is summoned by his mother to search for the medicine his grandfather so desperately needs. To embark on his journey, Junior wraps himself in a cape made from the blue tarp that covers his roof. Written, directed and produced by Alejandra López. Produced by María José Delgado.
“La Tienda” profiles Daniela del Mar and Camila Araya Pérez, two artists and Latinx letterpress printers in Portland, Oregon, whose work intertwines social justice and Spanglish with the craft of traditional printing techniques. Directed by Karina Lomelin Ripper. Produced by Ripper and Jessica Daugherty.
“Dear Queer Dancer” follows two LGBTQ trailblazing couples — Angelica and Jahaira and Luis and Ngoc — on their way to compete at the World Latin Dance Cup. Defying the genre’s legacy of machismo, their message to the Latin dance world is “make room. We’re here.” Directed and produced by Sarah Taborga.
Episode 2 – Tuesday, July 13
“Un Pequeño Corte” reveals what happens when 6-year-old Elizabeth (Lucia Malagon) cuts off one of her pigtails while at school and must face the consequences. Her strong-willed and super protective mother (Camila Arteche) rushes Elizabeth to the beauty parlor, where she is the center of attention for all the wrong reasons. A first-generation Cuban American in Miami, Elizabeth seeks to find her own identity with the help of a new friend. Written, directed and co-produced by Mariana Serrano. Produced by Mark Pulaski.
“Body and Spirit in Times of Pandemic” follows Edwin Siguenza, a Guatemalan immigrant truck driver and pastor of a Latino Evangelical church in Los Angeles. When the pandemic hits, Edwin has to navigate the risks of being an essential worker while attending to the needs of his congregation and the pressure to keep the church open. Directed and produced by Andrés Caballero.
“Our Lady Lupe” is the story of Chico, a 10-year-old boy (Derrick Delgado) who spends all his time playing video games. When his hard-working mother’s car breaks down, Chico embarks on a journey to fix it with the help of a mystical mechanic—and learns a lesson about tradition and family. Written, directed and produced by Dominique Nieves.
“Pasos de Valor” tells the story of Val (Nathalie Carvalho), a pregnant MBA student whose due date and final exam are in conflict. Determined to create opportunity for her Mexican American family, Val takes the exam despite her professor’s refusal to make accommodations. Written, directed and produced by Natalia C. Bell, the film is inspired by the director’s own birth story.
Episode 3 – Tuesday, July 20
“Mi Fango, Mi Cerro” is a portrait of Chemi Rosado-Seijo, an artist who yearns to find utopia in Puerto Rico. After a long search, he believes he finds it in El Cerro, a rural, working-class community nestled in the mountains. For 10 years, he works with the community to paint houses across the hillside in different shades of green. Directed and produced by Julia Mendoza Friedman.
“The Daily War” is the story of a veteran (Adelina Anthony) and her son, who struggle to make ends meet. When a job opportunity presents itself, it ends up triggering her PTSD. Directed and produced by Karla Legaspy. Co-produced and written by Adelina Anthony. “The Daily War” is a co-production with Latino Public Broadcasting (LPB).
“Cuban American Gothic” is the comic and slightly surreal story of Maggie (Maggie Diaz Bofill), who is living alone in New York City during the early 2020 pandemic. When her Cuban parents return from the dead to help, they remind her of their immigrant journey and that they have given her everything she needs to rise above the moment. Inspired by an original monologue by Bofill, the film is produced and directed by María Teresa Rodríguez and co-produced by Bofill. “Cuban American Gothic” is a co-production with Latino Public Broadcasting (LPB).
“Noche Buena” takes place on Christmas Eve as a dysfunctional Cuban family gathers around the dinner table. Caro (Erica Adams) struggles to get through the night as everyone grapples with political correctness, current events and the incessant battle between left and right. As resentment escalates into verbal and literal diarrhea, they uncover hard truths about themselves — all before the ﬂan. Written and directed by Andres Rovira and produced by Rovira and Ray Tezanos, who also stars as Javi.