Skip to content
Support Provided By: Learn more
Press Release

POV Presents Award-Winning On The Divide, Debut Documentary from Filmmakers Maya Cueva and Leah Galant, Premieres Monday, April 18, 2022 on PBS

February 28, 2022

Overview

New York, N.Y. – March 1, 2022 – McAllen, Texas, located at the southern tip of the state within the Rio Grande Valley, is the largest city in Hidalgo County. A true bi-national city, it is home to Whole Woman’s Health of McAllen – the last abortion clinic on the U.S./Mexico border. Since there is only one abortion clinic in the entire Rio Grande Valley, if this clinic were to close its patients – both US citizens and undocumented people – would have to travel over 250 miles to access a full range of reproductive services.

In On The Divide, first-time filmmakers, Maya Cueva and Leah Galant, (recognized as 2021 DOC NYC “40 Under 40 Filmmakers”), follow the stories of three Latinx people living in McAllen, Texas who, despite their views, are connected by the most unexpected of places: the last abortion clinic on the U.S./Mexico border. As threats to the clinic and their personal safety mount, these three are forced to make decisions they never could have imagined.

Click here to watch the trailer.

On The Divide makes its national broadcast and streaming premiere as part of POV’s 34th season on Monday, April 18th at 10 p.m. ET on PBS (check local listings) and streaming online at pov.org. The film will be available to stream free until May 18, 2022. On The Divide made its World Premiere at the 2021 Tribeca Film Festival. It won “Best Documentary” at the 2021 New Orleans Film Festival and Santa Fe Independent Film Festival. The film will also be featured at the upcoming 2022 Human Rights Watch Film Festival in London and Sebastopol Documentary Film Festival.

Throughout On the Divide, filmmakers Cueva and Galant expertly bring the audience into the rising tensions—and humanity—at the center of this contentious issue. Participants featured are Mercedes, a Latina woman in her thirties who used to be involved in gangs and is now part of the pro-life Church movement, embracing the support from the Christian pregnancy center located next door to the clinic. Denisse, a young mother of four, who volunteers at Whole Woman’s Health of McAllen and helps guide women into the clinic, providing much-needed comfort and assistance. Protecting the entryway into the clinic is Rey, a Latino security guard in his late sixties who is fervent in his religious beliefs, but is also deeply affected by the plight of the women who arrive at the abortion clinic. Also in the documentary are organizers Melissa and Denni, co-founders of South Texans for Reproductive Justice, and Yolanda Chapa, founder of the McAllen Pregnancy Center.

The protagonists’ lives intertwine at the clinic, as they grapple with how their devotion informs their role in fighting for, or against, reproductive rights. Filmed over seven years, the documentary chronicles this community during the political climate of the Trump administration, the storytelling bolstered by an empathetic lens and an authentic concern for spotlighting reproductive rights as a fraught national issue.

“As we began production on On the Divide in 2014, we noticed that many community members were frustrated because they felt the news media often misrepresented, ignored or created ‘poverty porn’ out of their stories,” said co-director, Maya Cueva. “For this reason, we wanted to make sure protagonists’ stories led the film as opposed to talking heads or politicians. We hope that the film shows that there is space within the abortion debate to be both a person of faith and pro-abortion, and it’s valid to decide to have an abortion or to not as long as you are not interfering with other people’s decisions and support that the choice should legally exist. Ultimately, it comes down to bodily autonomy and how choice is necessary for survival.”

“It was important for Maya and myself to create a film that reached outside of echo chambers and the dichotomy that often plagues discussions around abortion,” said co-director, Leah Galant. “We follow people who challenge preconceptions of what it means to have a stake in reproductive justice. We center those most impacted by anti-abortion legislation which are often low income communities of color. We want to leave audiences with this question: what does choice really mean when you aren’t afforded many options?”

“This impactful film by Maya Cueva and Leah Galant is more important than ever and a strong finish to our 34th season,” said Am Doc | POV Executive Director Erika Dilday, “On The Divide not only allows the people of McAllen,Texas to frame the issue on their own terms and in their own voices, but elevates and broadens the larger cultural and political conversation about reproductive health.”

Cueva and Galant worked closely with organizers and people from the area of McAllen and the Rio Grande Valley to ensure community representation was centered in the storytelling. The diverse, women-led team included local crew from McAllen or Texas, such as the film’s associate producer Gisela Zuniga and field producer Omar Casas.

On the Divide is a Fishbowl Films production in association with Giving Voice Films, Willa Productions and Latino Public Broadcasting, and is a co-production of POV. The film will be available for streaming concurrently with its broadcast on all station-branded PBS platforms, including PBS.org and the PBS Video App, available on iOS, Android, Roku streaming devices, Apple TV, Android TV, Amazon Fire TV, Samsung Smart TV, Chromecast and VIZIO. PBS station members can view many series, documentaries and specials via PBS Passport. For more information about PBS Passport, visit the PBS Passport FAQ website.

Credits

Directors: Maya Cueva, Leah Galant

Producers: Diane Becker, Melanie Miller, Amanda Spain and Elizabeth Woodward

Story Producer: Marina Nieto Ritger

Editor: Berenice Chávez

Executive Producers: Justine Nagan, Chris White, and Erika Dilday for POV | American Documentary Inc.; Sandie Viquez Pedlow for Latino Public Broadcasting

Original Song “Aquí No Hay Pena” performed by multi Grammy nominated singer/songwriter Ximena Sariñana, inspired by Danielle López and her family López-Rodriguez-Barrientos’ ancestral indigenous cantor

Photos

On The Divide photos here

About the Filmmakers

Maya Cueva, Director and Sound Recordist

Maya is a Latina award-winning director and producer with a background in documentary, radio, and audio producing. She is a Netflix Nonfiction Director and Producer fellow and was recently listed on DOC NYC’s “40 Under 40 Filmmakers”co-presented by HBO Documentary Films. Maya’s work has been featured on The New Yorker, NPR's “All Things Considered,” “Latino USA,” The Atlantic, Teen Vogue, and National Geographic. She received a student Emmy for her short film The Provider and her feature film, On the Divide, premiered in the documentary competition at Tribeca Film Festival in 2021. Her most recent short documentary Ale Libre was acquired by The New Yorker and was selected to screen at several Oscar qualifying festivals, including Big Sky Documentary Festival, Hot Docs, Aspen Film Festival, and SFFILM. Maya’s feature documentary On the Divide will be broadcast on POV on PBS, premiering April 18, 2022.

Leah Galant, Director and Director of Photography

Leah Galant is a Jewish filmmaker and Fulbright Scholar based in New York whose storytelling focuses on unexpected narratives often through the lens of womxn. In 2021 she was recognized as one of DOC NYC’s “40 under 40 Filmmakers.” While at Ithaca College in 2015 she was named one of Variety’s "110 Students to Watch in Film and Media” for her work on The Provider (SXSW 2016, Student Emmy Award) and Beyond the Wall. She was a Sundance Ignite and Jacob Burns Fellow where she created Death Metal Grandma (SXSW 2018) about a 97-year-old Holocaust survivor Inge Ginsberg who sings death metal which won “Best Documentary” at the American Pavilion at Cannes Film Festival, and is a NY Times Op Doc. Leah is a member of Meerkat Media worker-cooperative film production company in Sunset Park, NY. Leah serves as the Director and Director of Photography on her feature debut, On the Divide.

Diane Becker, Producer

Diane is an Emmy® nominated, Peabody Award winning producer and a graduate of the American Film Institute. She has produced Greg Barker’s award-winning films alongside Passion Pictures and Motto Pictures including Sergio (2009 Oscar shortlist), Manhunt (2013 Emmy), and The Final Year. Diane has also produced a slate of prestigious music films: We Are X, If I Leave Here Tomorrow, Sid & Judy, and the Emmy nominated Tina. Recent credits include: Belushi (Showtime), and docu-series’ such as Five Came Back (Netflix), Trial By Media (Netflix), and Equal (HBO Max). Diane and Melanie Miller are the co-founders of Fishbowl Films. Inventing Tomorrow (POV) premiered at Sundance (2018) and won a Peabody Award (2019). They were awarded the 2020 Sundance Institute/Amazon Producer’s Award for Non-Fiction for Whirlybird. The film is the International Documentary Association’s ABC News Videosource Award winner for 2021. Their latest, Navalny, won the US Documentary Audience Award and the Festival Favorite at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival. Diane was a Sundance Documentary Creative Producing Fellow and is a member of the Producers Guild of America (PGA), the Documentary Producers Alliance (DPA), the Television Academy (ATAS), and the Academy Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS).

Melanie Miller, Producer

Melanie Miller is a Peabody Award-winning producer with three decades of experience in the entertainment industry. Melanie pairs extensive knowledge in producing and development with a deep experience in innovative and effective distribution strategy. During her tenure as Vice President of Acquisitions & Marketing at Gravitas Ventures and Executive Vice President at Samuel Goldwyn Films, she was instrumental in the new paradigm of independent distribution. Melanie and Diane Becker are co-founders of Fishbowl Films. Their documentary films include Sundance alums Inventing Tomorrow (POV | Amazon) by Laura Nix, Whirlybird (Mubi) by Matt Yoka and Navalny (CNN Films | HBOMax) by Daniel Roher, which won the US Documentary Audience Award and the Festival Favorite at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival. Recent credits also include docu-series Trial By Media (Netflix), Equal (HBOMax) and Marvel 616 (Disney+). Melanie is a frequent guest speaker and mentor at renowned organizations including the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation’s Sloan Summit, the American Film Market (AFM), the Produced by Conference, and the Sundance Institute. She is a member of the Producers Guild of America (PGA), the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (ATAS), the Documentary Producers Alliance (DPA), and was awarded the 2020 Sundance Institute | Amazon Studios Non-Fiction Producers Award with her producing partner Diane Becker.

Amanda Spain, Producer

Amanda Spain recently joined MSNBC Films as the Vice President of Longform Acquisitions.

Revitalized under MSNBC President Rashida Jones and Amanda Spain, MSNBC Films, distributes a slate of dynamic documentaries, including Memory Box: Echoes of 9/11, which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival, Civil War, Four Seasons Total Documentary, award-winning In The Dark of the Valley, and Paper & Glue a project by acclaimed French artist JR.

Before joining MSNBC Films she was the Director of Non-Fiction for Blumhouse Television. Other recent credits – Executive Producer Pray Away, Exposure, and In the Dark of the Valley, Producer – Television Event, On The Divide, After Antarctica, and Krimes. In addition to her most recent credits, Amanda produced the audience favorite and award-winning documentary Bathtubs Over Broadway, which was nabbed by Focus Features, as well as a number of films, shorts, and series for numerous outlets including Netflix, ESPN, A&E, PBS, MTV, Discovery, and the Sundance Channel. She was a 2016-2017 Sundance Producing Fellow and is a current member of the Producers Guild of America (PGA), the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (ATAS), and the Documentary Producers Alliance (DPA).

Elizabeth Woodward, Producer

Elizabeth Woodward is a producer of documentary and narrative films and founder of Willa Productions. She was selected for Forbes “30 Under 30,” Berlinale Talents, Impact Partners Producers Fellowship, and DOC NYC’s “40 under 40 Filmmakers.” Her films have premiered at Sundance Film Festival, Tribeca Film Festival, AFI Fest and Sheffield Doc Fest and have been supported by Sundance Institute, Tribeca Institute, Chicken and Egg, the International Documentary Association, Film Independent, Field of Vision, Level Forward, The Gotham, Perspective Fund, Berkeley Film Fund, and the New York Foundation for the Arts. She is a member of the Television Academy, the Documentary Producers Alliance, and the Young Professionals Group at the Council on Foreign Relations. Her recent projects include On The Divide (Tribeca 2021, POV) and You Resemble Me (Venice Film Festival 2021, executive produced by Spike Lee, Spike Jonze, Alma Har’el, Riz Ahmed) and she is currently producing two feature documentaries supported by Sundance Catalyst and Impact Partners. Past projects include Netflix’s The Great Hack (Oscars® shortlist, Emmy® nominee, BAFTA nominee, IDA nominee, Cinema Eye winner, Sundance 2019), HBO’s hit series The Vow, and Persuasion Machines (Sundance New Frontier 2020), American Masters’ Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story, and a film with Fareed Zakaria by the CNN Documentary Unit. She is a graduate of Brown University and the University of Cambridge.

About

About POV

Produced by American Documentary, POV is the longest-running independent documentary showcase on American television. Since 1988, POV has presented films on PBS that capture the full spectrum of the human experience, with a long commitment to centering women and people of color in front of, and behind, the camera. The series is known for introducing generations of viewers to groundbreaking works like Tongues Untied, American Promise and Minding The Gap and innovative filmmakers including Jonathan Demme, Laura Poitras and Nanfu Wang. In 2018, POV Shorts launched as one of the first PBS series dedicated to bold and timely short-form documentaries. All POV programs are broadcast nationally on PBS, POV.org and the PBS Video app.

POV goes “beyond the broadcast” to bring powerful nonfiction storytelling to viewers wherever they are. Free educational resources accompany every film and a community network of thousands of partners nationwide work with POV to spark dialogue around today’s most pressing issues. POV continues to explore the future of documentary through innovative productions with partners such as The New York Times and The National Film Board of Canada and on platforms including Snapchat and Instagram.

POV films and projects have won 45 Emmy Awards, 26 George Foster Peabody Awards, 15 Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Awards, three Academy Awards and the first-ever George Polk Documentary Film Award. Learn more at pbs.org/pov and follow @povdocs on social media.

About American Documentary

American Documentary, Inc. (AmDoc) is a multimedia company dedicated to creating, identifying and presenting contemporary stories that express opinions and perspectives rarely featured in mainstream media outlets. AmDoc is a catalyst for public culture, developing collaborative strategic engagement activities around socially relevant content on television, online and in community settings. These activities are designed to trigger action, from dialogue and feedback to educational opportunities and community participation.

Major funding for POV is provided by PBS, the Open Society Foundations, The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Wyncote Foundation, Reva & David Logan Foundation, Park Foundation, and Perspective Fund. Additional funding comes from the National Endowment for the Arts, New York State Council on the Arts, public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, Sage Foundation, Nancy Blachman and David desJardins, Chris and Nancy Plaut, Abby Pucker, Ann Tenenbaum and Thomas H. Lee and public television viewers. POV is presented by a consortium of public television stations, including KQED San Francisco, WGBH Boston and THIRTEEN in association with WNET.ORG.