Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month

Documentaries and programs to help celebrate the diversity of Hispanic and Latina/e/o/x cultures.
Published on August 31, 2022 by Beatrice Alvarez

Hispanic Heritage Month runs from September 15 to October 15 and it is a great time to learn more about the diversity of Hispanic and Latina/e/o/x experiences and cultures. In 2020, the U.S. Hispanic population was an estimated 62 million out of the total U.S. population of 331.4 million.

We know that just one descriptor can hardly capture the spirit and cultures of so many people who descend from a vast geography that includes present-day Southwestern U.S. states to the southern most tip of South America, and nearly every present-day country and island in between. This is why you'll see many different ways in which people describe themselves and their heritage. You'll see the terms Latina, Latino, and their non-gendered versions Latine and Latinx. You might also see people identify as Hispanic, Chicano, Tejano, Taino, Isleños, Boricua, Afro-Latino, in addition to the many who identify with any one of the 22 nations and Puerto Rico that comprise Latin America. We hope you see an array of these voices and stories in this collection of programs and documentaries.

Lights, Camera, Acción

From American Masters:

Discover the candid perspectives of Latine actors, writers, producers, directors, and showrunners across generations as they dissect the ever-evolving issue of Latine representation in Hollywood. Featuring Edward James Olmos, John Leguizamo, Xolo Maridueña ("Cobra Kai"), and Julissa Calderon ("Gentefied"), Peter Murrieta ("Mr. Iglesias"), Marvin Lemus ("Gentefied") and more.

This film was just awarded a 2022 Imagen Award for Best Short Film!

35th Hispanic Heritage Awards

The 35th Hispanic Heritage Awards premiered September 30, 2022. You can stream it on the PBS app and hear from the inspiring honorees in between amazing musical performances.

The Last Out

From POV:

Three Cuban baseball players leave their families and risk exile to train in Central America and chase their dreams of playing in the United States. At the shadowy nexus of the migrant trail and pro sports, The Last Out chronicles their difficult journey, from multi-step immigration obstacles and learning English to the broken promises and dubious motives of agents.

In addition to The Last Out, you can stream more POV documentaries that explore Hispanic and Latino experiences during Hispanic Heritage Month.

La Manplesa

From America ReFramed:

On May 5th, 1991, people took to the streets of Washington D.C.’s Mount Pleasant neighborhood to protest the police shooting of a young Salvadoran man, Daniel Gomez. Through testimony, song, poetry, and street theater, LA MANPLESA: An Uprising Remembered weaves together the collective memory of one of D.C.’s first barrios and dives into the roots of the '91 rebellion.

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Singing Our Way to Freedom

Explore the life and music of Ramon "Chunky" Sanchez, from his humble beginnings as a farmworker in Blythe, California to the dramatic moment when he received one of our nation's highest musical honors at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. Chunky’s arc of transformation from marginalized farm kid to charismatic social activist shows how one person can mobilize people to change the world.

Building the American Dream


Across Texas an unstoppable construction boom drives urban sprawl and luxury high-rises. Its dirty secret: abuse of immigrant labor. The film captures a turning point as a movement forms to fight widespread construction industry injustices. A story of courage, resilience and community, the film reveals shocking truths about the hardworking immigrants who build the American Dream.

Jovita Idar: Mexican American Activist and Journalist

From American Masters:

Jovita Idar (1885-1946) helped organize the first Mexican American civil rights conference in 1911 to address racism, lynching, and dismal educational opportunities for Mexican American children.

Chilly & Milly

From the PBS Short Film Festival:

Chilly, William’s father, is a diabetic with kidney failure, whose illness detrimentally affects his and his family’s lives. Milly sees her sole purpose in life as to taking care of her loved ones. While watching the documentary, Chilly and Milly discuss their life together, and their successes and setbacks in life. When Chilly passes away during the pandemic, Milly comes to terms with her loss.

Congratulations to filmmaker William Caballero, whose film Chilly & Milly was the winner of the 2022 Film Fest Juried Prize.

Explore Food and Recipes of Hispanic and Latino Cultures

Let's be honest, food is one of the most delightful ways to learn about one's culture. Food is love! Each ingredient is a note in the song that tells the history and movement of a people. The different flavors of the many Hispanic and Latino communities tell us about the environment, the pace of life, and the celebrations. And of course, there are dishes that will transport us home with just one bite. We could talk about food and how meaningful it is all day long so let us stop here and serve up some programs and documentaries that highlight the food and recipes of Hispanic and Latino cultures.

La Frontera with Pati Jinich

James Beard Award-winning host Pati Jinich takes us to the U.S.-Mexico border to talk about the region's rich culture and cuisine.

Take a Dance Break

Name a dance step that originates from Latin America. We'll go first: salsa. And bomba. And tango. And bachata. And rumba. And we could go on and on. Dance is a way of sharing culture and stories. The KQED series If Cities Could Dance has featured the many communities across the nation telling their stories through dance.

Profiles of Latin@s in STEM

Watch documentaries about just two of the many notable STEM pioneers in U.S. history: Jose Hernandez and Ynés Mexía. Hernandez (born August 7, 1962) grew up in a family of migrant farmworkers in California's Central Valley. He went on to study electrical engineering and then fulfilled a life-long dream of becoming NASA astronaut. Mexía (May 24, 1870 - July 12, 1938) was a botanist and early environmentalist. She was an incredibly prolific plant collector and is credited with identifying 500 species of plants, of which 50 are named in her honor.

Latinos Are Essential

Meet Latinos from all over the country who helped their communities through the COVID-19 pandemic. You can also stream the whole series on the PBS app.

Roberto Clemente

From American Experience:

Born in Puerto Rico, Clemente was an exceptional baseball player and humanitarian whose career sheds light on larger issues of immigration, civil rights and cultural change. He would die in a tragic plane crash in 1972.