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Ask the Filmmaker

Bernardo Ruiz

Bernardo Ruiz took your questions live along with an online screening on Tuesday, January 8, but you can catch the recap of the chat below. Learn more about the making of Reportero and the issues facing journalists in Mexico.

POV: Welcome to POV's social screening with Bernardo Ruiz, Director of Reportero.

POV: We are starting the first screening of Reportero. Bernardo Ruiz will be joining us at 8 PM ET (5 PM PT) to answer your questions and provide live commentary as the film replays.

POV: Please feel free to post your questions for Bernardo ahead of time. Take the new poll: How did you learn about today's screening?

POV: Have you entered yet? If you're watching right now, you can enter the Premiere Party giveaway! One lucky viewer will win the Grand Prize - a Sony digital camera and lens! Enter here.

POV: We'll be starting the Q&A screening in about 10 minutes at 8pm ET. We apologize for any video lag that may be occurring, and will proceed with the Q&A as planned. Please feel free to post your questions for Bernardo ahead of time.

POV: Did you know? Just by watching right now, you're eligible to enter our Premiere Party giveaway for a chance to win the signed DVD + popcorn, coffee, chocolate & more! Grand Prize: A Sony digital camera. Enter at

Jennifer: My second OVEE screening of the day! Awesome

POV: Welcome again to POV's social screening with Bernardo Ruiz, Director of Reportero.

POV: Welcome, Bernardo, thank you for joining us.

Bernardo: Despite tech challenges, I am very excited to be with you all!

POV: Yes. If you are just joining us, please feel free to post your questions.

POV: Our first question: How did you find this story and decide it should be a documentary?

Bernardo: I was actually looking for another story...

Bernardo: I wanted to make a film about a shelter for deported minors in the border city of Mexicali...where Sergio Haro works and lives.

Jennifer: @Bernardo, what's happening now with the journalists at zeta? how has the film impacted their work?

Bernardo: @Jenniffer - the journalists have been very smart and have leveraged the press the film has generated. Sergio's first book has already sold out and is going in to 2nd printing

Jennifer: Amazing!

Bernardo: Adela Navarro - the dynamic editor says the film has helped them with international recognition

Jennifer: What about the situation on the ground? Has the media attention made things more or less dangerous for them?

Bernardo: @Jennifer - according to reports, the violence has slowed from the "hot" years of 2008, 2009 and even 2010 when there were gun battles in the street

Bernardo: There were some reporters who didn't want to be included in this film - and I (of course) respected that.

Bernardo: There was one crime reporter who only told me the stories she was working on after I was done with the film!

Bernardo: I still get Semanario Zeta shipped to my office in New York. I am probably the only person on the subway reading Zeta.

Jennifer: I noticed you've done a lot of panels around journalism in general, and the future of investigative reporting in the last year. Do you think your film is having an impact on those conversations?

Bernardo: I do think that the film has pressed the issue of journalist safety in Mexico.

Bernardo: According to many journalists and CPJ there has been no meaningful prosecution of crimes against journalists.

POV: Bernardo: Has the film shown in Mexico? How was it received?

Bernardo: The film screened in 13 cities in Mexico through the amazing Ambulante...

Bernardo: I attended the Tijuana and Mexico City screenings...

Bernardo: I was really moved by the testimonies at the Tijuana screenings.

Bernardo: Many people knew parts of the story, but not the whole thing.

Bernardo: Initially I was worried what people in TJ would think about the film, but it was given and continues to receive a very warm reception.

POV: Bernardo: What is the current status of Zeta and the safety of its reporters?

Bernardo: I mention this in POV Update, but the last serious threat that I am aware of happened in Feb. 2012.

Bernardo: Adela Navarro was threatened. This happened about a month after the film was completed and just before Mexico premiere.

Jennifer: What's your next project? Are you still interested in telling stories about journalism?

Bernardo: Adela also had her life threatened during production of the film - obv something very difficult for her and staff.

POV: Bernardo: Did you ever find yourself in danger during filming? What did you do?

Bernardo: @Jennifer: I am working on The Graduates/Los Graduados, a bilingual series following 6 students across the country.

Bernardo: I am extremely excited about it.

Jennifer: OMG, to POV's question, were you ever threatened in Mexico while shooting Reportero?

POV: If you are just joining us, welcome. Please post your questions for Bernardo here.

Bernardo: It is part of the American Graduate initiative, but with a very independent approach.

Bernardo: The journalists at Zeta are the ones who were and remain in danger.

Bernardo: In the absence of effective prosecution of crimes against reporters and media workers, the threats, intimidation and killings will continue

Bernardo: I and my team always had the ability to leave Mexico when things became difficult.

Bernardo: I am dual citizen, but I live in the U.S.

Bernardo: I always had an out.

Jennifer: Thank you for telling their story.

Bernardo: I just spoke with sergio Haro last night before broadcast.

Bernardo: He told me that safety remains an issue in Mexicali

Bernardo: But he also shows no signs of slowing down.

Bernardo: He remains committed, stubborn and..also very funny

Bernardo: I wish we could have included more of his great sense of humor in the film.

Bernardo: In March, he, his wife and I are going to screen REPORTERO in the Hague.

Jennifer: @Bernardo - can't wait to see your next project. I've gotta run. On a plane with no outlets and my laptop is about to die!

Bernardo: Excited to see him again.

Bernardo: Thank you,


Jennifer: That's amazing about the Hague. Congratulations!!!!

POV: Thank you,


Bernardo: I have also started researching a new film.

Bernardo: The new project is also about a human rights issue in Latin America

Jennifer: About what?

Bernardo: But with global implications

Anonymous GL6Y: What can we in the U.S. do to show our support for the journalists doing this brave work?

Bernardo: A group of forensic anthropologists who are collecting evidence for human rights trials.

Bernardo: Re what can we do - great & important question

Bernardo: We can start by supporting groups like the Committee to Protect Journalists who are doing very difficult work in Mexico.

Bernardo: We can also put pressure on the new Mex govt. to effectively prosecute crimes against media workers.

Bernardo: A recent law in Mexico was passed federalizing crimes against journalists.

Bernardo: This is a first step, but there is no enforcement mechanism to speak of.

Bernardo: The int'l community needs to make it clear that we will not tolerate the killing of journalists.

POV: Bernardo, can you tell us why this is an important film for a U.S. audience to watch?

Anonymous GL6Y: I'm sharing the link to the Committee to Protect Journalists. ...amazing work going on there.

Anonymous GL6Y:

Bernardo: The new Mex govt of Enrique Peña Nieto (Pres as of 12/1/12) needs to know that the international community and press expect to see investigations...and ultimately justice.

Rick: It's sad that journalists and even filmmakers are the target of organized crime. I hope more persons are able to watch this film. For here in TX, these are our neighbors, friends, and distant family members that are being affected.

Bernardo: The new govt. of Enrique Peña Nieto (press as of 12/1/12) needs to understand there is an international community and press that demands investigations and transparent prosecutions of crimes against journalists.

Jennifer: @Bernardo - does your film have any kind of campaign to put pressure on the new Mexican president to demand investigations?

Bernardo: @Rick - your comment is really important. Border communities are so interconnected. We can not say that this is a "Mexican" problem.

Bernardo: @Jennifer: We have been working with CPJ

Bernardo: We started a petition drive before crimes against journalists in Mexico were "federalized"

Jennifer: Is there a link to that somewhere?

Bernardo: With a new administration in Mexico, we want to work with CPJ and other groups to keep international pressure on government

Bernardo: The petition phase is over, but CPJ has just launched a really important campaign:


Bernardo: Speak Justice

Anonymous GL6Y: Bernardo, how do you juggle outreach and promotion of one film like Reportero while shooting the next film?

Bernardo: There is a Speak Justice video on our blog:

Bernardo: Ha!

Bernardo: Re juggling projects:

Bernardo: That is the million dollar question!

Bernardo: I don't sleep enough Un

Anonymous GL6Y: Clearly!

Bernardo: I get so excited about each project that I end up doing too many things.

Rick: I grew up on the border, but I never saw the reality of what was happening on the other side till I did my own research. Living in San Antonio, we have a flux of migrants (mostly the rich who can afford it) coming to the States. This is creating some interesting sociological interactions between the old Mexican Americans and the new Mexican cultures.

Bernardo: REPORTERO is special, though. It was a long, difficult process

Bernardo: @Rick: San Antonio is a great city

Bernardo: As I am sure you know, one could make many films about the Texas-Mexico border

Bernardo: Lourdes Portillo has made some beguiling and difficult films about Juarez.

Bernardo: I spent some time in south Texas - Mcallen, Elsa-Edcouch for a POV project back in 2003

Bernardo: Actually that was 2002!

Bernardo: The project was one of PBS's first forays in to new media storytelling.

Bernardo: I worked with three students form the region.

Bernardo: Here is the project:

Bernardo: No Vimeo back then!

Anonymous YKBI: Tell us more about your project The Graduates? Is it focused on the U.S.?

Bernardo: For The Graduates, we are focusing on six different students in six different regions in the US.

Bernardo: It is ambitious from a logistical standpoint, but extremely exciting.

Rick: Yessir @Bernardo! A beautiful city with beautiful people. Thank you for the link! Everyone refers to Mexico in one way or other, a love or hate relationship. Love for the country and its people, a hate for what is happening and dissatisfaction with the government's ability.

Bernardo: We are profiling three boys/young men in one hour and three girls/young women in a 2nd hour.

Bernardo: They are all Latina/o students and the project is fully bilingual.

Bernardo: We will air in Fall of this year on Independent Lens, POV's public media cousin.

Bernardo: @Rick - part of why I love making docs is that I get to spend time in communities that

Bernardo: aren't always represented enough or fairly in the media.

Bernardo: One of the great things about PBS and POV in particular is that we have a platform for these stories - and from makers who understand/come from those communities

Bernardo: Public media plays such an important role in media, education - where else would REPORTERO air?

Rick: This is great exposure for the unseen stories. PBS/POV has done well. It will be wonderful to see your new project, Latinos from around the region have different perspectives on what's happening, though no matter how far you go, you feel affected. Media bridges that gap.

Anonymous YKBI: So true, even with more docs than ever it is hard to find stories that truly reflect our communities

Bernardo: Unfortunately, cable news tends to cover Mexico in a very shallow or sensationalized way.

Bernardo: I'd like to think we are in a period of building...

Bernardo: As the country is changing, public media needs to change with it.

Bernardo: This is one reason why I am so excited about The Graduates.

Rick: It's important for all Americans to see what is happening in Mexico because it's a result of the US-Mexico relationship, whether it's the drug trade or NAFTA. Organized crime is attractive to those who can afford no other life, and the money/guns comes from the U.S.

Bernardo: Rather than seeing Spanish language content as a negative, PBS is saying lets bring in new viewers - an opportunity!

Bernardo: @Rick - the histories of the US and Mexico are intertwined, no much heated rhetoric is out there about Mexico, immigration, etc.

Anonymous 89B0: @Bernardo - what is Sergio Haro's book about?

Bernardo: Sergio's book is called, "Don't Forget About Us!"

Bernardo: It is a compendium of his reporting, spanning nearly 30 years.

Bernardo: The title comes from a comment a woman made after a severe earthquake in Mexicali

Bernardo: The book is only in Spanish at the moment, but we have been talking about finding an English-language translator.

Bernardo: Here is a link to an intv. with Sergio about his book:

Bernardo: Sergio also exhibited some of his photos in New York this past summer.

POV: We have about 10 minutes left for our social screening with Bernardo, so please write your final questions now.

Rick: I think that there is a good presence in US Leadership that can spearhead reformation in areas that affect Mexico negatively. The more the public has an opinion, the greater the opinion that US representatives will have towards putting more pressure on Mexican policy.

Bernardo: @Rick - we hope that REPORTERO can be part of that international dialogue.

Bernardo: It has been inspiring to see how the film has been used.

Bernardo: The US Ambassador to Mexico screened it in Mexico City this past Spring.

Bernardo: with Adela Navarro and local officials

Bernardo: Thanks also to Saúl Hernandez, a famous singer (Jaguares) the film rec'd a ton of press and attention in Mexico.

Anonymous 89B0: Has the new govt under Enrique Peña Nieto or his predecessor responded directly to you or Zeta regarding screening of your documentary?

Bernardo: Saúl felt the story of the journalists was something that needed to be shared with youth in particular.

Rick: That is a wonderful gesture to the success of the documentary and its impact. Congratulations Bernardo!

Bernardo: Re Peña Nieto - I have not rec'd direct communication from govt.

Bernardo: I have spoken to consular figures, but never any direct communication re the impact of the film.

Bernardo: I have just started a blog on my company's website. I will be updating it and posting about REPORTERO and new projects:

Bernardo: I wish I had slept more the night before this interview. I look very tired.

Rick: I think it's symbolic to the hard work involved. Hah.

Bernardo: I am grateful to have aired the film on POV -

Bernardo: such an important, great series.

Bernardo: I also teach, and I always share POV films with my students.

Rick: Wonderful documentary, thank you!

POV: We are extremely grateful to have you, Bernardo. Thank you for joining us today, Bernardo. Is there anything else you want to say to our viewers?

Bernardo: Gracias, a Uds.!

Bernardo: Just ThanK You

POV: Fantastic. We're excited that Reportero will be available for full streaming online until February 6th, 2013:

POV: You can hear more from Bernardo by watching this video interview on the PBS website:

Bernardo: Our hope is that more people see the film!

POV: And remember, Like the Reportero Facebook page at

Bernardo: Thank you ll again for your support.

Bernardo: that's you all

POV: Thank you so much for joining us, Bernardo!

POV: And thanks to everyone who wrote in! Fabulous questions tonight.

Bernardo: Yes - really enjoyed the chat

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