Why Crowdfunding a Documentary on US Latino Vote Is Mission Critical

Two weeks ago, my close friend and chairman of the Latino Rebels Foundation Andrés López called me about a new Kickstarter project focusing on the elusively misunderstood “Latino vote.” Having known Andrés since my college days and also the fact that both our dads went to elementary school together in Caguas, Puerto Rico, when a close friend calls, you listen.

That chat led to a late-night call with the film’s core team, Gianpaolo and Alessandro Pietri. Having heard countless pitches in my life, the conversation I had with the Pietri brothers was refreshing. These guys cared. They wanted to make a film that was objective, factual and a potential game-changer. Having read the film’s treatment and vision, I instantly saw its importance. This film needed to get made and what better way to do it than by asking the community to fund it.

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Nonetheless, I was a bit skeptical, until I read more about the film and talked more with the Pietri brothers.

Our producers will not be taking a salary from the film, but other specialized crew members require compensation for their hard work. Trust me. This is our passion. We’d do it all for free if we could, but we can’t do it without your contribution.

Then I read their answer to why they are doing the film in the first place.

1. To educate the political class (politicians and candidates for office) about the nuances of the Hispanic voter. What motivates them to turn out to vote. What issues are important to them (not necessarily immigration reform)? How can they improve their outreach and communication?

2. Most importantly, this film speaks to Latino voters, those who voted, but even more importantly, those who are eligible to vote who chose NOT to vote. This film will show just how much power they are leaving on the table. The goal is to create awareness among Hispanics that their vote matters, their vote is influential, and with it they have the power to pick who wins and who loses, thereby determining the future of how we are governed… not just Hispanics, but Americans in general.

This second point, about Hispanics harnessing the full breadth of their electoral power, has the potential to alter the culture of America. It represents a true paradigm shift in what is now the most powerful nation on Earth. This is huge. This is a game-changer. This is why we are doing this.

As a result, LatinoRebels.com began to promote the film. This documentary will try to get serious questions answered and also change the national conversation of the Latino vote.

It is mission critical for a lot of reasons. Here are just a few.

Maybe the film can help the mainstream media dig deeper int what the “Latino vote” really is. Cue Chris Matthews with his oversimplified analysis:

Maybe the film will help to “educate the ignorant.” For example, here are actual POLITICO comments from people online who have no clue:

“That is total BS. Almost all “Hispanics’ want amnesty for illegal aliens, period. They want it right freaking now. They don’t care if there is ever enforcement. In fact, the “Latino leadership” demand essentially unlimited numbers of visas, so literally millions more Hispanics can come here. They want power, and the more of “their people” immigrate here, the more power they have.

I know more about this issue than you or any other leftist moron on this board. Learn Spanish and watch the Spanish language news shows. You might learn something. I live with these people all day every day, all my life. I know what I am talking about. You know from newspapers or TV.”

I am a white nationalist. I want my country to remain majority white as long as possible. Why should white people support mass immigration, which turns US into a minority, where WE feel out of place, where WE don’t feel “at home”, and where WE don’t feel safe?

Ignorance like this is all too common, because media continues to portray the “Latino vote” as something that is foreign and out of touch with the United States. In addition, even within the Latino community, there is a feeling that is so much easier to criticize and berate than it is to be united. Latinos are our own worse enemy, so when there is any effort to try and push for more unity, it is mocked at but a small minority of complainers.

And then you wonder why no one takes you seriously, and nothing ever changes.

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That type of thinking needs to stop. It is the biggest reason why LatinoRebels.com placed a banner ad (at not cost to the filmmakers) on its front page, leading to more exposure to the project. It is why we have tweeted about it and shared it on our social pages. We would rather have more voices involved in this messy experiment called democracy than less. We would rather celebrate new voices than deal with those cynics who are quick to judge and quite frankly, stay mediocre. We will leave the small thinkers to grouse amongst themselves. This is bigger than all of us. El futuro es nuestro.

As the movie’s crowdfunding push enters its last two days, people have already commented, both positively and negatively, about a public pitch by Eva Longoria to pledge $25,000 to the film. While most see a high-profile celebrity stepping up with funds, others see this as a ploy, a sham. The creator of Devious Maids? I get that, since this page always questions whether such type of stereotypical content does the community any good. I personally don’t think it does help the cause, and I will never be convinced. However, if others want to give to a project that I believe in, go for it. It won’t change me. It just goes to show that in the end, we have more in common than we might think.

This is still an important film to make, and if Latinos in this country really want to make a difference (and some never will), we must begin to look for commonalities. Presenting a more accurate view of Latinos in the political process is a start. We must continue to act and support real projects that have the best of intentions. This film is literally coming from the community: there are no beer ads, there will be no Chris Matthews-type commentary.

I am tired about how Latinos are misrepresented in politics and the media.

I am tired about the silly unproductive debates regarding what it is to be “Latino” in the U.S.

I am tired of how people really think that this is all a part of some crazy agenda to achieve something that I have yet to understand.

In my world, this is all about celebrating hard work, staying true to yourself and never forgetting where you come from. That is what I see when I interact with the Pietri brothers. That is what drives them.

This is also about telling real stories. Simple as that.

There is so much more to do in terms of changing the political narrative and educating other Americans about U.S Latinos. Those amateurs who constantly complain about misrepresentation won’t do anything about it, and they will be forgotten, only screaming to themselves. The complaining is over, because in the end, it won’t get you anywhere. It is also based on anger and resentment, two qualities that never translate to anything. More and more of us must begin to change perceptions ourselves instead of relying on others. That is why LatinoRebels.com was founded in 2011: to become an important voice in the process and to give other voices the chance to be heard.

So, in short, I am supporting this movie. And you should to. As for those who will forever fester in negativity?

Get out the way. There’s real work to be done.

To give to “El Voto Hispano,” go here.

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EDITOR’S NOTE: Julio (Julito) Ricardo Varela (@julito77) founded LatinoRebels.com in May, 2011 and proceeded to open it up to about 20 like-minded Rebeldes. His personal blog, juliorvarela.com, has been active since 2008 and is widely read in Puerto Rico and beyond. He pens columns on LR regularly. In the last two years, Julito represented the Rebeldes on CBS’ Face the NationNPR,  Univisionand The New York Times. Recently, he was a digital producer for Al Jazeera America’s The Stream.

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