This week, Latino Public Broadcasting announced the launch of a new series of short films called “Latinos Are Esssential,” which chronicles the stories of Latinos during the COVID-19 pandemic and showcases the work of dedicated “essential workers” (health care providers, teachers, food service workers, retail clerks and others) who have kept our country going while caring for their own families, a release about the series said.
All the shorts are available PBS.org, the PBS Video App and also eventually on PBS Voices, a YouTube channel from PBS Digital Studios that aims to explore what unites us through short-form documentaries. One of the films features Maria Hinojosa of Futuro Media, the company that also produces Latino Rebels.
Here are the short films in the series:
ALL AROUND US
Filmmaker: Andrés Caballero
Location: New York, NY
Maria Hinojosa, host of “Latino USA,” discusses her work reporting on the pandemic’s effect on Latino communities and her own bout with the virus.
CHELSEA – AN ESSENTIAL CITY
Filmmaker: Sabrina Avilés
Location: Chelsea, MA
Two-thirds of the residents of the port city of Chelsea are Latino and four out of five are essential workers. Meet a young city councilwoman and a sanitation worker who are keeping their city running.
EL PASO ESTÁ PRESENTE
Filmmaker: Ramón Villa-Hernández
Location: El Paso, TX
Monica Navarro is an associate at the Cielo Vista Walmart, the site of the devastating 2019 shooting that left 23 dead. Despite the tragedy, she takes pride in her work and her role in her family and community.
GROWING IN THE SHADOWS
Filmmaker: Lidieth Arevalo
Location: Kennett Square, PA
Anel Medina is a 28-year-old registered nurse and one of the 200,000 DACA recipients who are classified as essential workers, serving Americans across the country during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Filmmaker: Juan Carlos Dávila
Location: Corozal, Puerto Rico
In Puerto Rico, wracked by the aftermath of recent natural disasters and with unreliable electricity and internet access, two married teachers struggle to teach their students virtually while raising their own children.
Filmmaker: Raúl O. Paz-Pastrana
Location: Denver, CO
Twenty-two-year-old Dulce Bueno is a first response EMT who works long nights driving an ambulance for one of Colorado’s busiest trauma centers. Her job takes an enormous emotional toll, especially during the difficult days of the pandemic.
A PESCADOR IN THE TOWN
Filmmaker: Yvan Iturriaga, María José Calderón
Location: Oakland, CA
Meet Pancho Pescador, a self-taught Chilean artist and teacher, who spends his pandemic-era days bringing art and life to the struggling streets of Oakland.
Filmmaker: Rhonda Mitrani
Location: Miami, FL
Melanie is a Cuban-American first-grade teacher who is navigating the new experience of teaching her students online while caring for her three-year-old daughter and coping with sudden single parenthood.
Filmmaker: Jennifer Maytorena Taylor
Location: San Francisco, CA
Jon Jacobo, a first-generation Salvadoran American policy analyst and community activist from San Francisco’s Mission District, shares the story of the city’s Latino Task Force and its groundbreaking partnership with medical researchers to create large-scale COVID testing for Latinos and essential workers.
TODOS UNIDOS Y YO
Filmmaker: Esau Meléndez
Location: Chicago, IL
Alfonzo Seiva is a Mexican immigrant living with his wife and son, who has been diagnosed with a rare form of epilepsy. After his maintenance business declined due to the pandemic, Alfonzo began a program that brings meals and groceries to people in need.
“While this year has been devastating, it has also given us a chance to reflect on all the work that our community does to keep Americans safe, fed and comfortable,” says Sandie Viquez Pedlow, LPB Executive Director in a release. “We wanted to honor these extraordinary people while also providing emerging Latinx filmmakers with work, empowering them to tell the stories of essential workers in their communities These short films provide a glimpse into the lives of people often unseen but so deserving of our recognition and gratitude.”
Beside the support of publish media stations all over the country, several partners have signed up to support the series through social media (#Esenciales and #LatinosAreEssential), including LULAC (League of United Latin American Citizens), LCLAA (Labor Council for Latin American Advancement), HACU (Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities), HIP (Hispanics in Philanthropy), the IMAGEN Foundation, and Latinarrific.