September 15 – October 15 is Hispanic Heritage month! Started in 1968 (as Hispanic Heritage Week), the now month-long observation recognizes the contributions of Hispanic Americans to the United States. September 15th is the anniversary of independence for Costa Rica, El Salvador, Gautemala, Honduras and Nicaragua; Mexico and Chile also celebrate their independence days in September. Today, there are more than 44 million people in the U.S. who are of Hispanic origins.
You can celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month by learning more about Hispanic culture, and what better way than to watch POV documentaries? On September 16th, POV will be airing Calavera Highway by Renee Tajima-Peña and Evangeline Griego. “Calavera” means “skeleton” in Spanish, and when brothers Armando and Carlos Peña set off to carry their mother’s ashes to south Texas, their road trip turns into a quest for answers about a strangely veiled past.
Here are some other Hispanic-themed films from the POV Archives:
Made in L.A. follows the remarkable story of three Latina immigrants working in Los Angeles sweatshops as they embark on a three-year odyssey to win basic labor protections from a trendy clothing retailer. Compelling, humorous and deeply human, the film is a story about immigration, the power of unity and the courage it takes to find your voice.
Al Otro Lado
The proud Mexican tradition of corrido music — captured in the performances of Mexican band Los Tigres del Norte and the late Chalino Sanchez — provides both heartbeat and backbone to this rich examination of songs, drugs and dreams along the U.S./Mexico border. Al Otro Lado follows Magdiel, an aspiring corrido composer from the drug capital of Mexico, as he faces two difficult choices to better his life: to traffic drugs or to cross the border illegally into the United States.
Maquilapolis [city of factories]
Just over the border in Mexico is an area peppered with maquiladoras: massive factories often owned by the world’s largest multinational corporations. Carmen and Lourdes work at maquiladoras in Tijuana, where each day they confront labor violations, environmental devastation and urban chaos. In this lyrical documentary, the women reach beyond the daily struggle for survival to organize for change, taking on both the Mexican and U.S. governments and a major television manufacturer.
The shocking hate-based attempted murders of two Mexican day laborers catapult a small Long Island town into national headlines, unmasking a new front line in the border wars: suburbia. For nearly a year, Carlos Sandoval and Catherine Tambini lived and worked in Farmingville, New York, so they could capture first-hand the stories of residents, day laborers and activists on all sides of the debate. This timely and powerful film is more than a story about illegal immigration. Ultimately it challenges viewers to ask what the ‘American dream’ really means.
When 29-year-old Iowa housewife Denese Becker decides to return to the Guatemalan village where she was born, she begins a journey towards finding her roots, but one filled with harrowing revelations. Denese, born Dominga, was nine when she became her family’s sole survivor of a massacre of Maya peasants. Two years later, she was adopted by an American family. In Discovering Dominga, Denese’s journey home is both a voyage of self-discovery and a political awakening, bearing searing testimony to a hemispheric tragedy and a shameful political crime.
The Sixth Section
The Sixth Section opens a surprising window on immigration in the twenty-first century. Following a group of Mexican immigrants from the tiny desert town of Boqueron who now work in upstate New York, the film documents their struggle to support themselves — and their hometown 2000 miles to the south. To do this, the men form a ‘union’ that raises money in the form of weekly donations of $10 or $20 from each of its members in New York. In the past few years the group has brought electricity, an ambulance and, most dramatically, a 2,000-seat baseball stadium to Boqueron. The Sixth Section is an intimate portrait of how ‘The American Dream’ is being redefined by today’s immigrants.
Someone is killing the young women of Juarez, Mexico. Since 1993, over 270 young women have been raped and murdered in a chillingly consistent and brazen manner. Authorities ignore pleas for justice from the victims’ families and the crimes go unpunished. Most disturbingly, evidence of government complicity remains uninvestigated as the killings continue to this day. Crafting a film that is both a poetic meditation and a mystery, Señorita Extraviada is a haunting investigation into an unspeakable crime wave amid the disorders and corruption of one of the biggest border towns in the world.