The Graduates / Los Graduados

The Graduates

  • BY Bernardo Ruiz | IN Education
    Premiered October 28, 2013

About the Film

The Graduates / Los Graduados explores pressing issues in education today through the eyes of six Latino and Latina students from across the United States. More than a survey of contemporary policy debates, the bilingual, two-part film offers first-hand perspectives on key challenges facing Latino high school students and their families, educators, and community leaders. It is the story of the graduates who will make up America’s future. MORE

Presented over two nights, the film follows six teenagers — three girls and three boys — each with their own unique obstacles to overcome. “Girls” features Stephanie, a daughter of Salvadoran immigrants, who despite attending a tough public school on the South Side of Chicago, fights through the distractions and worries about violence to become a good student, outspoken activist, and volunteer; Chastity, a Bronx teen whose family has become homeless but uses writing as a means of escape while keeping her eyes on the prize — college; and Darlene, a Tulsa student who dropped out of school after becoming pregnant and has to play catch-up when she dives back into her studies, all while trying to make a good future for her son.

“Boys” gives us three more teenagers who are just as distinct: Juan, a Dominican living in Lawrence, Massachusetts who was bullied as a gay teen until finding his own identity as a performer and writer; Eduardo from San Diego, who is steered away from the gang path when introduced to a special college prep organization that changes his outlook; and Gustavo, who came to America from Mexico to live in the very different environment of Georgia and whose dreams of college are blocked by his undocumented status.

A running theme throughout all of the stories in The Graduates/Los Graduados is the importance of civic engagement, of students becoming involved in their schools and communities, and — crucially — having a say in their own futures.

We hear from these students’ parents, many of whom have had to make great sacrifices in order to see their children graduate, and the film also interweaves engaging interviews with successful Latinos — actors like Wilmer Valderrama, activists, writers like Angie Cruz, politicians such as San Antonio mayor Julian Castro, teachers, and more — looking back on their own experiences as a student in the USA.


The Filmmakers

Headshot of The Graduates filmmaker Bernardo Ruiz.Bernardo Ruiz, Series Writer & Executive Producer

Ruiz founded Quiet Pictures in 2007 to produce independent documentary projects at the intersection of journalism and film. He is the director/producer of America Experience: Roberto Clemente (PBS, 2008) and more recently directed Reportero(POV, 2013), a gripping look at the world of Mexican journalists who cover organized crime and political corruption. Before starting Quiet Pictures, Ruiz worked for a variety of media outlets, including PBS, National Geographic, Planet Green and MTV, among others. He was born in Guanajuato, Mexico and grew up in Brooklyn in a household where education was a frequent topic of conversation — his mother has been a teacher of high-school Spanish for nearly 40 years. He studied documentary photography with Joel Sternfeld at Sarah Lawrence College. Before embarking on a career in documentary, he taught as an artist-in-residence in New York City public schools via Learning through an Expanded Arts Program (L.E.A.P.)

Headshot of The Graduates filmmaker Pamela Aguilar.Pamela Aguilar, Producer

Pamela A. Aguilar is an award winning documentary filmmaker with over ten years of experience producing innovative and informative programming for public television (PBS). She co-produced the Emmy-nominated documentary The Longoria Affair (Independent Lens, 2010) about the racial divides in a South Texas town, that led to the uprising of the Latino Civil Rights Movement. She also produced two hours of the nationally acclaimed four-part PBS series Latin Music USA covering the contributions of Latin sounds in American music. Other public media credits include Beyond Brown, Matters of Race, and FRONTLINE. Theatrical documentary credits include Bigger, Stronger, Faster; Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead; and Shut Up and Sing, as well as the co-production of an investigative documentary on No Child Left Behind Legislation for the Emmy Award-winning series, CNN Presents. She’s a graduate of New School University, a CPB/PBS Producer’s Academy Fellow and currently resides in New York City.

Headshot of The Graduates filmmaker Katia Maguire.Katia Maguire, Producer

Maguire most recently worked with Bill Moyers as an associate producer on the public affairs news program Moyers & Company and for Bill Moyers Journal. She was the senior associate producer for Women, War & Peace, a five-part PBS documentary special exploring women’s strategic role in conflict and peace-building, and a co-producer on Quest for Honor, a documentary about honor-based violence in the Kurdish region of Iraq that was short-listed for the 2010 Academy Awards and premiered at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival. She is a recipient of ITVS Diversity Development Funding for her documentary Jessica Gonzales vs. The United States of America. Katia was a 2009-2010 fellow with the Union Docs documentary arts collaborative in Brooklyn. LESS

Film Credits

Episode 1 "Girls' Hour"

Series Writer and Executive Producer
Bernardo Ruiz

Series Editor
Carla Gutierrez

Produced by
Pamela A. Aguilar
Katia Maguire
Bernardo Ruiz

Directors of Photography
Antonio Cisneros
Mai Iskander
Jerry Risius

Original Score
Leo Abrahams

Additional Editing
Ricardo Acosta
Sheila Shirazi

Production Coordinators
Leann K. Lytle
Kayla Malahiazar

Sound Recordists
José Araújo
Bryan Apolinar
Ken Dabek
Susan Sunday

Additional Cinematography
Andrew Freund
Marcus Lehmann
Katia Maguire
Joe Martin
Claudio Rocha
Lucas Smith

Additional Sound
Mario Cardenas
Allen Green
Ernie Munoz
Gustavo Przychodny
Andre Rivera
Paul Schmitz

Assistant Editors
Andrés Arias
Carlos Rojas
Lucas Smith
Pepe Urquijo

Grips
Julio Alvarez
Raul Blanco

Talent Coordinator
Tsahai M. Wilson

Animation, Graphics and Title Design
Awesome & Modest

Digital Intermediate Colorist
Will Cox

Digital Intermediate Online Editor
Drew Kilgore

Digital Intermediate Producer
Caitlin Tartaro

Post Production Services
Final Frame Post

Sound Designer and Re-Recording Mixer
Ruy García

Dialogue Editor
Roland Vajs

Sound FX Editor
Billy Orrico

Sound Mix Facility
Warner Brothers NY

Production Counsel
Fernando Ramirez, Esq.

Production Accounting
Adams & Salter, LLP.

Bookkeeper
Jill K. Gordon

Field Production Assistants
Andrés Arias
Eddie Bernard
Christopher Cortez
Richard Fields
Juan Carlos Hernandez
Esteban Pulido

Production Interns
Garima Agrawal
Daniela Pérez Frías
Vanessa Hernandez

Transcription
Daniel Alvarado
Joshua A. Blankenbeckler
Erin Chapman
Eric Fichtl
Ben Laffin
Andrew Vargas Stehney
Pepe Urquijo

Archival Photographs and Footage Courtesy of
Angie Cruz
Associated Press
Claudio Sanchez
Darlene Bustos
Gerardo Mendez
Maria Teresa Kumar
Mayor Julián Castro
Stephanie Alvarado
T3Media

Special Thanks
Justin Burke
Yasmine Farhang
Michael Kamber
Nancy Mann
Esaú Melendez
Denise Santana Montes
Pam Sporn
Katherine Leal Unmuth

Executive Producers for ITVS
Sally Jo Fifer
Tamara Gould

The Graduates / Los Graduados is a co-production of Dropline Media, LLC.
and the Independent Television Service (ITVS) in association with Latino Public Broadcasting (LPB)
with funding provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB).

This program was produced by Dropline Media, LLC which is solely responsible for its content.

© 2013 Dropline Media, LLC. All Rights Reserved

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Episode 2 "Boys' Hour"

Series Writer and Executive Producer
Bernardo Ruiz

Series Editor
Carla Gutierrez

Producers
Bernardo Ruiz
Katia Maguire
Pamela A. Aguilar

Directors of Photography
Antonio Cisneros
Mai Iskander

Original Score
Leo Abrahams

Additional Editing
Ricardo Acosta
Sheila Shirazi

Production Coordinators
Leann K.
Lytle Kayla Malahiazar

2nd Unit Camera
Ezra Riley

Sound Recordists
José Araújo
Khalif Breaux
Andre Rivera

Additional Cinematography
Marcus Lehmann
Katia Maguire
Joe Martín
Jerry Risius
Claudio Rocha
Bernardo Ruiz

Additional Sound
Mario Cardenas
Allen Green
Ernie Munoz
Gustavo Przychodny
Paul Schmitz
Joseph Simmons

Assistant Editors
Andrés Arias
Carlos Rojas
Lucas Smith
Pepe Urquijo

Grip
Raul Blanco

Talent Coordinator
Tsahai M. Wilson

Animation, Graphics & Title Design
Awesome & Modest

Digital Intermediate Colorist
Will Cox

Digital Intermediate Online Editor
Drew Kilgore

Digital Intermediate Producer
Caitlin Tartaro

Post Production Services
Final Frame Post

Sound Designer & Re-Recording Mixer
Ruy García

Dialogue Editor
Roland Vajs

Sound FX Editor
Billy Orrico

Sound Mix Facility
Warner Brothers NY

Production Counsel
Fernando Ramirez, Esq.

Production Accounting
Adams & Salter, LLP.

Bookkeeper
Jill K. Gordon

Field Production Assistants
Ryan Bennett
Eddie Bernard
Christopher Cortez
Richard Fields
Alejandro Reynoso
Carlos Solorio

Production Interns
Garima Agrawal
Daniela Pérez Frías
Vanessa Hernandez

Transcription
Joshua A. Blankenbeckler
Erin Chapman
Eric Fichtl
Ben Laffin
Andrew Vargas Stehney
Pepe Urquijo

Archival Photographs and Footage Courtesy of
Andrea Sánchez Madrid
Associated Press
Claudio Sanchez
CNN
Eduardo Corona
Gustavo Madrigal
José G. Pérez
Juan Bernabe
Lawrence Public Schools
Luis J. Rodriguez
Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa
Reality Changers
Richard Blanco
T3Media
WGCL TV
Wilmer Valderrama

Additional Music

“Lady Luck”
Performed by Brian Setzer Orchestra
Courtesy of Hollywood Records

Special Thanks
George and Catherine Cisneros
Yasmine Farhang
Chris Markuns
Pavel Payano
Shalimar Quiles
Katherine Leal Unmuth

Executive Producers for ITVS
Sally Jo Fifer
Tamara Gould

The Graduates / Los Graduados is a co-production of Dropline Media, LLC
and the Independent Television Service (ITVS) in association with Latino Public Broadcasting (LPB)
with funding provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB).

This program was produced by Dropline Media, LLC., which is solely responsible for its content.

© 2013 Dropline Media, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Share your own stories of overcoming obstacles as a student, or as a parent of a child who has struggled to finish their education. How did you handle it? Which student's story in the film did you relate to?
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Share your own stories of overcoming obstacles as a student, or as a parent of a child who has struggled to finish their education. How did you handle it? Which student's story in the film did you relate to?