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Afro-Latina/o identities, Argentina, art, assimilation, California, Central America, Chicana/o culture, city planning, colonialism, consumerism and identity, Cuba, Cuban Americans, Cuba-U.S. relations, cultural integration, dirty war, the disappeared, domestic workers, drug trafficking, experimental cinema, family, gender roles, gentrification, globalization, higher education, historiography, history, identity, immigration, indigeneity/indigenous identities, Latinas, Latina directors, Latina/o gangs, Latina/o identity, Latina/o stereotypes, Latina/o youth, Los Angeles, machismo, marianismo, masculinity, Mexican Americans, migration, motherhood, music, New York City, North Carolina, parody/satire, Philadelphia, Puerto Ricans, religion, rural communities, transnationalism, U.S.(Texas)-Mexico border, U.S.-Mexico Border (California-western Mexico), U.S.-Mexican border (El Paso-Ciudad Juarez), violence.


Al otro lado (To the Other Side). Dir. Natalia Almada. Altamura Films, 2005.
Call number: ISA Film Collection (DVD)
Filming locations: La Reforma (Sinaloa, Mexico); Los Angeles, CA.
Duration: 66 mins.
Summary: A selection at the 2005 Tribeca Film Festival and broadcast on PBS’s Front Line series in 2006, Al otro lado adeptly shows the multiple causes and repercussions of U.S.-Mexico immigration.  The economic hardships that befall La Reforma, a small fishing town in Sinaloa, Mexico, force its residents to choose between low wage and precarious jobs, immigration to the U.S., or drug trafficking.  Corridos, the Mexican folk tradition, figure prominently into the narrative as a way for individuals to give voice to their experiences as well as others, as in the case of Los Tigres del Norte.

Keywords: U.S.-Mexico Border (California-western Mexico), music, immigration, drug trafficking, Latina directors.


Balseros. Dir. Carlos Bosch and Joseph Maria Domènech. Seventh Art Releasing, 2003.
Call number: 65-DVD5110 (Media Resource Center)
Filming locations: Havana, Cuba; Guantánamo Bay, Cuba; Miami, FL; Hartford, CT; New York, NY; York, PA; San Antonio, TX; Nebraska.
Duration: 120 mins.
Summary: Balseros follows the trails and travails of 7 Cubans who leave their country for the U.S. in 1994, after the decline of the Cuban economy owing to the collapse of the Soviet Union.  “Balsa” (raft) and “balsero” (rafter) refers to the homemade rafts Cubans constructed in their attempts to arrive to the U.S.  One witnesses the both festive and sad departures of the Cubans, their capture and detention at Guantanamo Bay, their arrival to Florida, and, in many cases, their fortune in cities such as New York, New Haven, and Albuquerque.

Keywords: Cuba, Cuban Americans, Cuba-U.S. relations, migration.


Beyond the Border/Más allá de la frontera. Dir. Ari Luis Palos. Dos Vatos Production, 2001.
Call number: 65-DVD5271 and 65-V9052 (Media Resources Center; Library Use Only)
Filming locations: Michocán, Mexico; Kentucky, USA.
Duration: 55 mins.
Summary: Beyond the Border/Más allá de la frontera focuses on the trials and successes of the Ayala brothers.  The brothers, who number four, left their parents and sisters in Michocán, Mexico as teenagers hoping to earn money for their families working in Kentucky.  The brothers struggle with assimilation in the U.S. and leaving behind their families.  Each brother endures distinct circumstances ranging from battles with alcoholism to losing one’s Mexican citizenship in order to take U.S. citizenship.  The film has been broadcast on PBS and provides an excellent window into immigration in the southeast U.S.

Keywords: assimilation, cultural integration, family, gender roles, identity, immigration, masculinity, migration, rural communities.


Chávez Ravine. Dir. Jordan Mechner. Bullfrog Films, 2004.
Call number: 65-V9392 (Media Resource Center; Library Use Only)
Filming locations: Los Angeles, CA
Duration: 24 mins.
Summary: Chávez Ravine documents the how three poor Mexican-American communities within Chávez Ravine (La Loma, Palo Verde, and Bishop) were displaced by the Los Angeles municipal government for the ostensible purpose of creating an ambitious housing project in the 1950s.  Former residents of Chávez Ravine were to be given priority for units in the housing project. However, the project was abandoned when opposition claimed the housing project signaled an encroachment of communism and socialism in Los Angeles.  Archival footage, film stills, and interviews with former residents of Chávez Ravine and the designers of the housing project compose the film.

Keywords: gentrification, Los Angeles, Mexican-Americans, city planning.


Children of Violence. Dir. Bill Jersey. Quest Productions, 1982.
Call number: 65-V896 (Media Resource Center; Library Use Only)
Filming locations: East Oakland, CA
Duration: 56 mins.
Summary: Children of Violence depicts the lives of several Chicana/o teenagers in East Oakland in the early 1980s who generally belong to a gang, or have some connection to it.  While their lives are characterized by violence (generally masculine) either amongst each other or with other gangs, one sees the various ways the teens try to make right either through playing football, attending alternative schools, and/or connecting with their Mexican/Chicana/o cultures.

Keywords: Latina/o gangs, violence, Latina/o youths.


Chulas Fronteras. Dir. Les Blank. Brazos Film, 1976.
Call number: 65-V4050 (Media Resource Center; Library Use Only)
Filming locations: Laredo, TX; Brownsville, TX.
Duration: 58 mins.
Summary: A classic Chicana/o documentary, Chulas Fronteras broaches the historical, social, and cultural dynamics behind norteño music along the Mexican and Texas border in places such as Laredo and Brownsville, Texas.  The film includes numerous interviews with norteño musicians and footage of performances by Lydia Mendoza and Flaco Jiménez, among others.  The director contextualizes the music at cookouts, wedding anniversaries, various festivals, and the Chicana/o and farm worker movements.

Keywords: U.S.(Texas)-Mexico border, music, Chicana/o culture, history, and Latina/o identity.


A Class Apart: A Mexican American Civil Rights Story. Dir. Carlos Sandoval and Peter Miller. PBS Home Video, 2009.
Call number: 65-DVD10519 (Media Resources Center; additional copy for Library Use Only)
Duration: 60 mins.
Filming locations: Texas; Washington, D.C.
Summary: The trial case concerning the murder of one Mexican American by another in 1954 in San Antonio, Texas, became the pretext under which a group of Mexican American lawyers successfully argued for the civil rights of Mexican Americans.  A Class Apart focuses on the legal team that pursued their case to the Supreme Court and their arguments.  The laywers’ victory became the point of departure for Mexican Americans to gain equal treatment in public education, housing, voting and running for political office.

Keywords: cultural integration, Latina/o identity.


Columbus on Trial. Dir. Lourdes Portillo.
Call number: 65-V8035 (Media Resource Center; Library Use Only)
Filming location: N/A
Duration: 18 mins.
Summary: Made in collaboration with the comedy trio Culture Clash, this experimental video is intended as political satire on the 500th anniversary of Christopher Columbus’s arrival to the “New World.”  Indicative of the title, Columbus is put to trial for crimes committed against the indigenous of Americas.

Keywords: Columbus, colonialism, experimental video, satire.


Counseling Latina/o Children and Adolescents: Cross-cultural Issues. Microtraining, 2004.
Call number: 65-DVD3038 (Media Resource Center; Library Use Only; book accompanies DVD)
Duration: 60 mins.
Filming locations: Massachusetts
Summary: This film relies on reenactments and monologues by trained counselors to discuss what and what not to do when engaging Latina/s children in grade school settings.  Practical issues of discipline, confronting discrimination, and using interpreters, among other items, are covered here.

Keywords: family, Latina/o youth.


Cruceros y caminos. Dir. Shane Nye. 1996.
Call number: ISA Film Collection (VHS)
Filming location: Clinton, NC.
Duration: 17 mins.
Summary: Cruceros y caminos provides a window into the evolving Latina/o community in Clinton, NC.  Through voiceovers and interviews, one learns of the circumstances that draw Latin American immigrants to Clinton and what convinces them to settle there in greater numbers.  Local churches serve as important community centers and the film shows various community functions such as a quinceañera, festivals, and religious services.

Keywords: North Carolina, assimilation, religion.


Después del Terremoto (After the Earthquake). Dir. Lourdes Portillo and Nina Serrano. Xochitl, 1979.
Call number: 65-V8034 (Media Resource Center; Library Use Only)
Filming locations: San Francisco, CA.
Duration: 24 mins.
Summary: Set in San Francisco, this short, black-and-white fictional film broaches a wide-range of issues related to gender-identity through the life of Irene, a young Nicaraguan immigrant, and other Latina characters.  Irene has fled the Somoza dictatorship and achieves a level of financial independence working as a domestic laborer.  The impending arrival of her boyfriend, who has been held captive in Nicaragua, provokes tensions between the couple.  Irene’s independence threatens his masculinity, and his presence infringes upon her budding sense of self-actualization that is at times problematically tied to a television set.

Keywords: gender roles, consumerism and identity, domestic workers.


The Devil Never Sleeps. Dir. Lourdes Portillo. Latin American Video Archive, 1994.
Call number: 65-V8036 (Media Resource Center; Library Use Only)
Filming locations: Chihuahua, Mexico.
Duration: 87 mins.
Summary: Lourdes Portillo returns to her birthplace, Chihuahua, Mexico, to investigate the rumors surrounding her Uncle Oscar’s death and, in doing so, to mediate on the nature of memory and family dynamics.  Documentary interviews, autobiographical testimonies, police reports, newspaper clippings, stylized film shots, photographs, television footage, and home movies allow for an examination of different media as reliable “evidence” in Portillo’s personal search for answers.  Tapping into film noir (specifically Welles’s Touch of Evil) and telenovela tropes, Portillo’s sleuthing broaches more questions beckoning the viewers to participate in the sinuous narrative.

Keywords: U.S.-Mexico transnationalism, parody, Latina/o identity, experimental film.


Dolores. Dir. Peter Bratt, PBS Distribution, 2017.

Call number:

Runtime: 95 minutes.

Summary: Amidst the rich catalogue of documentary films about the United Farm Workers movement, Dolores stands out as one of the strongest portraits of leader Dolores Huerta. The brainchild of director Peter Bratt and musician Carlos Santana, the award-winning documentary does an excellent job of both chronicling Huerta’s work in the UFW and charting her connection with movements for women’s liberation, Black civil rights, and gay liberation—an excellent connection that needs highlighting amidst the all-too-common siloed view of the UFW’s work.

Keywords: California, Chicana/o culture, domestic workers, Latinas, migration.


The Double Burden: Three Generations of Working Mothers. Dir. Marlene Booth. New Day Films, 1992.
Call number: 65-V9221 (Media Resources Center; Library Use Only)
Filming locations: Texas and California
Duration: 56 mins.
Summary: Director Marlene Booth uses her own life as a point of departure to explore the tensions between motherhood and work.  Booth interviews three generations of mothers in three separate families and, while all the families’ stories are significant and compelling in their own right, the vignette of the Gomez family should be of particular interest to those interested in Latina/o studies.  Otile, the eldest woman within the Gomez family, was a migrant farm worker who had to attend to her children while working on the job, as did her daughter, Molly, until she opened a restaurant.  Molly’s daughter, Jeanette, obtains a professional career as a draftsperson, but contends with an acute maternal guilt for not attending to her children on a daily basis.

Keywords: family, gender roles, Latinas, motherhood.


The Double Life of Ernesto Gomez Gomez. Dir. Catherine Ryan and Gary Weimberg. Luna Productions, 1999.
Call number:  Sonya Haynes Black Cultural Center (personal collection of Dr. Joseph Jordan)
Filming locations: Oaxaca, Mexico; San Francisco, CA; New York, NY.
Duration: 55 mins.
Summary: In this heartrending documentary, the notion of a double-life functions as both a figurative and literal metaphor for Ernesto Gomez Gomez, a young man in his late teens when the film was released.  Ernesto is also Guillermo, the son of Puerto Rican revolutionaries in the U.S.  When his mother is arrested and father goes into exile when he is only 13 months old in 1980, Ernesto/Guillermo is sent to Mexico to be raised by a family in Oaxaca.  Ernesto/Guillermo eventually learns of his past and at the age of 15 begins to visit a prison near San Francisco to reconnect with his mother.  Regardless of changing his name to Guillermo and declaring Ernesto “dead,” Guillermo cannot relinquish his ties to his Mexican family.  While the filmmakers foreground a personal story, the colonial and imperialistic relationship between the United States and Puerto Rico serves as a backdrop.

Keywords: assimilation, colonialism, Puerto Ricans, transnationalism.


Every Child is Born a Poet: The Life and Work of Piri Thomas. Dir. Jonathan Meyer Robinson.
Call number: Sonya Haynes Black Cultural Center (personal collection of Dr. Joseph Jordan)
Filming locations: New York, New York; San Francisco, CA.
Duration: 58 mins.
Summary: Broadcasts on PBS’s P.O.V. series, Every Child is Born a Poet describes the literary and life work of author Piri Thomas.  Interviews with Thomas are interspersed with recitations of his poems, dramatization of scenes from Thomas’s classic Down These Mean Streets (1967), and footage of him working with troubled teenage boys in juvenile detention in San Francisco.  Born in Spanish Harlem to Puerto Rican-Cuban parents, the film tackles head on complex issues of racial identity through Thomas’s identity.

Keywords: Afro-Latina/o identities, New York City, Puerto Ricans.


Eyes of the Rainbow. Dir. Gloria Rolando. 1997.

Access: Dailymotion.

Runtime: 47 minutes.

Summary: This film is a must-watch for any scholar of left-wing guerilla activism, the Black Liberation Army, or political theologies/spiritualities in Latinx life. The documentary tracks the life, incarceration, and liberation of Assata Shakur, the iconic Black militant and activist (who is also, incidentally, the godmother of Tupac Shakur). Shakur was imprisoned for murder in 1977 but escaped two years later, eventually finding asylum in Cuba—where filmmaker Gloria Rolando met her and created the documentary. Besides covering Shakur’s activism and time in the U.S. prison system, Eyes of the Rainbow studies Shakur as a member of a kind of Afro-Cuban diaspora, interposing her story with the history of Afro-Cubans and spiritual figures like Orisha Oya, the Yoruba goddess of the rainbow.

Tags: Afro-Cubans, militants, transnational films, political activism, religion/spirituality


Fear and Learning at Hoover Elementary. Dir. Laura Angelica Simón, Josepha Producciones, 1997.
Call number: 65-DVD6316 (Media Resource Center; Library Use Only)
Filming locations: Los Angeles, CA.
Duration: 53 mins.
Summary: Set in Los Angeles, this deeply personal documentary explores various attitudes surrounding Proposition 187 in California, a law that would have effectively banned public services for undocumented individuals, including denying education to undocumented children (the law was approved by California voters, but later found unconstitutional by a federal court).  The director, Laura Angelica Simón, is a teacher at Hoover Elementary in the Pico-Union district of Los Angeles and uses footage of Los Angeles and interviews with colleagues and, most significantly, children at her school to create a complex and saddening depiction of how race and immigrant status can affect learning.  One student, Mayra, a fifth-grader originally from El Salvador, becomes the focus of the film and exemplifies the conditions in which many students at Hoover live.

Keywords: higher education, Los Angeles.


The Great Mojado Invasion. Dir. Gustavo Vasquez.
Call number: ISA Film Collection (DVD)
Filming locations: N/A.
Duration: 26 mins.
Summary: A pseudo-documentary/ “mockumentary”/Chicana/o sci-fi classic, performance artist and writer Guillermo Gómez-Peña as the Border Brujo and Webback turns history on its head and contemplates the ramifications of U.S. of Aztlán had Mexico triumphed over the U.S. during the Mexican-American War from 1846 to 1848.  Gómez-Peña combines wit, original footage, and clips from campy Hollywood and Mexican films to forge a complex commentary about identity, Latina/o stereotypes, academia, and even performance art, among other topics.  The film is at once satirical, comical, and daunting.

Keywords: experimental cinema, Latina/o stereotypes, historiography.


The Hunting Ground. Dir. Kirby Dick. The Weinstein Company, 2015.
Call number: 65-DVD20539 (Media Resource Center); Streaming available through UNC Libraries
Filming location: N/A
Duration: 103 Minutes
Summary: Weaving first-person testimonies and employing elements of cinema verité, The Hunting Ground  follows two former students at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill—Annie E. Clark and Andrea Pino—who filed Title IX complaints against UNC in response to their experiences with sexual violence. Charting instances of sexual violence across North American universities and exposing the culture that makes this possible, the documentary provides a grim landscape of women’s experiences in higher education. Pino, a first-generation Latina student of Cuban descent, explicitly argues that UNC was not complying with Title IX, as victims of sexual violence could not equally access education when feeling unsafe on campus. Director Kirby Dick details Clark and Pino’s activism, particularly their work in co-founding End Rape on Campus, a direct-service organization that influenced Senator Kirsten Gillibrand to write a bill which was introduced to congress,

Keywords: Student activism; Latina/o histories; sexual violence; title ix.


Improper Conduct (Mauvaise conduite). Dir. Nestor Almendros, Orlando Jimenez Leal, 1984.
Call number: 65-V1140 (Media Resource Center; Library Use Only)
Filming locations:  Considered a work of the first generation of Cuban American filmmaking, Improper Conduct operates ostensibly as an anti-Castro documentary to appeal to liberal viewers.  The film shows portrays the Cuban community in Miami, and denounces the oppression of artists and homosexuals in Cuba through interviews with figures such as Reinaldo Arenas, Guillermo Cabrera Infante, and Susan Sontag.  Despite its overt agenda, critics point to the film’s depiction of a destabilized Cuban identity and the emergence of a distinctly Cuban-American one, particularly through the interviews with queer Cuban refugees living in New York.
Duration: 112 mins.

Key words: Cuban, Cuban-American, exile, queer Latina/o identities.


El Inmigrante. Dir. John Sheedy, David Eckenrode, and John Eckenrode. Indican Pictures, 2005.
Call number: 65-DVD5023 (Media Resource Center)
Filming locations: Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas (Mexico); Sasabe, Mexico; Agua Prieta, Mexico; Altar, Mexico; Bracketville, TX; El Paso, TX;
Duration: 90 mins.
Summary: By focusing on the life and shooting death of Eusebio de Haro in 2001, El Inmigrante personalizes the crisis on the U.S.(Texas)-Mexican border.  De Haro journeyed from San Felipe, Mexico to south Texas twice.  During his second trip an elderly man in Bracketville, Texas shot and killed De Haro after he and a friend requested water.  The filmmakers interview several parties including de Haro’s family, U.S. ranch owners, police and government officials in Bracketville, U.S. border guards, and the Minutemen and thus provide a variety of perspectives.  The movie has been screened at various film festivals including the Full Frame Festival in 2006.

Key words: U.S. (California)-Mexican border, violence, immigration.


The Invisible Color: Afro-Cubans in Miami. Dir. Sergio Giral, Artmattan Films, 2017.

Runtime: 47 minutes.

Summary: This film by Afro-Cuban director Sergio Giral—perhaps better known for his Cuban-made narrative films chronicling stories of Cuban slavery—takes as its focus the Afro-Cuban exiles who live in Miami. As the film’s title suggests, and as its interviewees highlight, Afro-Cubans unique contributions to Latinx life are often obfuscated by their ambivalent racial belonging—and the film strives to correct this record. At the same time, the film strives to illustrate the ongoing racial strife embedded in Cuban society itself. That said, it’s important to note the act of selection and slanting the film itself produces: with its focus on exiles rather than U.S.-born Afro-Cubans, The Invisible Color constructs a particular political and generational view of Afro-Cuban life which may differ from that of younger voices.

Tags: Activism, Afro-Cubans, Art, Cubans, Cuban exiles, Immigration, Latina/os in Florida, Miami


The Latino Family. Films for the Humanities and Sciences, 1993.
Call Number: 65-V7689 (Media Resource Center; Library Use Only)
Filming locations: San Antonio, TX
Duration: 28 mins.
Summary: Three vignettes compose the film, focusing on Irene Flores, the Colorado Sisters, and a tradition in San Antonio the filmmakers title “Sunday in the Park.”  Irene Flores describes family traditions that forced her to marry at age 16.  After divorcing her first and eventually her second husband, she graduates from college.  The Colorado Sisters are performance artists who articulate in interviews and performances their recovery of their indigenous identities.  “Sunday in the Park” broaches the importance of family in the Latina/o community and treats gatherings in the park as an emblem representing the importance of family.

Keywords: Latinas, family, indigeneity, gender relations.


Latinos Speak Out: Sexual Assault in the Latino Community.
Call number: 65-V9872 (Media Resource Center; Library Use Only)
Filming locations: Philadelphia, PA
Duration: 20 mins.
Summary: Funded by several anti-rape coalitions, Latinos Speak Out tackles rape and domestic abuse committed by men against women in Latina/o communities in Philadelphia. One learns through interviews with victims, directors of rape crisis centers, religious leaders, and random people the causes and repercussions of domestic violence specifically in families and communities.  The wide spectrum of viewpoints, including the most absurd, makes for an engaging, if not saddening, discussion.

Keywords: domestic violence, machismo, marianismo, Philadelphia.


Las Madres: the Mothers of Plaza de Mayo. Dir. Lourdes Portillo and Susana Muñoz. Women Makes Movies, 1986.
Call number: 65-V8037 and 65-V5066 (Media Resource Center; Library Use Only)
Filming locations: Buenos Aires (Capital Federal), Argentina.
Duration: 58 mins.
Summary: Filmed during the final years of the Argentine military dictatorship (1976-83), this documentary recounts the protests of the mothers of the disappeared.  Portillo and Muñoz rely on interviews and voice-over narration to represent how motherhood operates as a political identity from which Las madres defied and criticized the dictatorship at a time which political protest was severely restricted.

Keywords: Argentina, dirty war, the disappeared, motherhood.


La vida no es fácil. Dir. Maurice M. Martinez., 2006.
Call number: ISA Film Collection (DVD)
Filming locations: Wilmington, NC.
Duration: 22 mins.
Summary: Maurice Martinez, a professor at the UNC-Wilmington, broaches an array of issues related to Latinas/os in North Carolina and focuses on obstacles facing young undocumented Latinas/os aspiring to a college education.  Martinez interviews Latina/o youths, leaders of non-profit, university faculty and trustees, and legislators while touching on misconceptions of Latinas/os and the composition of the Latina/o workforce in North Carolina.  The documentary also contains a prolonged discussion of House Bill 1183, a bipartisan proposal originally submitted in 2005 that would have allowed undocumented high school graduates who have spent at least 4 years in North Carolina to qualify for in-state tuition.  The bill’s defeat and the negative responses it generated from the public may prove particularly useful in discussions about undocumented Latina/o youth and education.

Keywords: Latina/o youth, higher education, North Carolina.


The Life and Poetry of Julia de Burgos. Dir. José Garcia Torres. Sandino Films, 1979.
Call number:  Sonya Haynes Black Cultural Center (personal collection of Dr. Joseph Jordan)
Filming locations: Puerto Rico; New York, NY.
Duration: 28 mins.
Summary: This short film effectively pays homage to Puerto Rican poet, Julia de Burgos (1914-1953).  Reenactments of various scenes from her life and the dramatization of some of Burgos’s poems touch on key events that shaped Burgos’s life including her university studies and teaching in a rural Puerto Rican town.  In addition, Burgos was involved with the numerous political causes, including the Puerto Rican independence movement, until she died prematurely in New York City.  In Spanish with English subtitles.

Keywords: colonialism, Puerto Ricans.


Living in America: One Hundred Years of Ybor City. Dir. Gayla Jamison. Filmmakers Library, 1988.
Call number: 65-V4064 (Media Resources Center; Library Use Only)
Duration: 53 mins.
Filming locations: Ybor City, FL
Summary: Ybor City is a neighborhood in Tampa, Florida, that rose to prominence when cigar factory owners relocated their operations from Key West to Ybor City to avoid labor unrest in the 1880s.  Ybor City was the site in which various nationalities converged and created sizable communities of Italian, Spanish, and Cuban, including a prominent Afro-Cuban community.  While little remains of the Ybor City’s heyday, Living in America shows residues of the city’s past through architecture, food, and interviews with elderly residents, and the efforts of newcomers to revive that past.

Keywords: Afro-Latina/o identities, city planning, Cuba, Cuban Americans, cultural integration, immigration.


Maid in America. Dir. Anayansi Prado. Women Makes Movies, 2004.
Call number: 65-V9216 (Media Resource Center; Library Use Only)
Filming location: Los Angeles, CA.
Duration: 58 mins.
Summary: Maid in America focuses on the lives of three Latina immigrants – Telma, Eva, and Judith – who work as housecleaners and caretakers for various families and individuals in Los Angeles.  Telma, Eva, and Judith hail from El Salvador, Mexico, and Guatemala, respectively, and relate their individual sacrifices, experiences, and aspirations.  Besides interviews with Telma, Eva, and Judith, their employers also relate how the women are crucial to their own lives and well-being.  The film also touches on issues of labor rights and organizing through the participation of Eva and Judith in a domestic workers cooperative, Dynamic Workers.

Keywords: Los Angeles, Latinas, domestic workers, Latina directors.


Matters of Race.  Dir. John Valadez, et al. PBS DVD Video, 2003.
Call number: 65-DVD10525 pts.1 and 2 (Media Resource Center; Library Use Only); 65-V8930 pts. 1 and 2 (Media Resource Library; Library Use Only)
Duration: 240 mins (divided into four parts with each part lasting approximately 50 minutes)
Filming locations: Siler City, NC; Mexico; California; South Dakota; Philadelphia; New York City.
Summary: Matters of Race is an incredible documentary exploring various conceptions and tensions regarding race in the U.S.  The film is divided into four parts, and the first and second films entitled “The Divide” and “Race Is/Race Ain’t,” respectively, should be of particular interest to viewers interested in Latina/o issues.  “The Divide” is largely focused on the changing demographics in Siler City, NC, owing to the influx of Latinas/os.  The film is outstanding for giving light to the multiple perspectives on Siler City’s transformation and does not stray away from the uglier side of race relations.  Likewise, “Race Is/Race Ain’t” documents the racial tensions surrounding the changing demographics in South Central, Los Angeles, and how the influx of Latinas/os there gives rise to tension among African American and Latina/o staff within a hospital that was originally founded to serve South Central’s marginalized African American population in the 1960s following the Watts Riots: The Martin Luther King Jr. Hospital.

Keywords: assimilation, cultural integration, family, identity, immigration, Latina/o stereotypes, Latina/o youth, North Carolina, rural communities.


Mayan Voices: American Lives. Dir. Olivia Lucia Carrescia. First Run/Icarus Films, 1994.
Call number: ISA Film Collection (DVD)
Filming location: Indiantown, FL; Provincetown, MA; Pennsylvania; Arizona.
Duration: 56 mins.
Summary: Mayan Voices describes the transformation of Indiantown, FL from a small agricultural community of some 3,500 residents in 1982 to a town boasting some 5,000-6,000 indigenous Guatemalans in 1992.  Fleeing a civil war and economic hardships, many indigenous Guatemalans are ironically drawn to the name “Indiantown,” (the area formerly belonged to the Seminoles) as well as the already established communities and the availability of work.  The influx of Guatemalans, however, are not without ramifications.  Through interviews with town residents, one learns of racial tensions, anxiety over assimilation, and the scarcity of jobs that accompanies the increased presence of Guatemalans.

Keywords: Latinas/os from Central America, rural communities, indigenous identities, cultural integration.


Los mineros (The Miners). Dir. Hector Galán. PBS Video, 1991.
Call number: 65-V2921 (Media Resource Center: Library Use Only)
Filming locations:  Clifton, AZ; Morenci, AZ.
Duration: 58 mins.
Summary: Originally broadcast on PBS in 1991 as part of a series entitled “The American Experience,” Los Mineros recounts the exploitation of Mexican and Mexican American miners in the copper mines of Clifton and Morenci, Arizona.   In 1906 Mexican miners were brought from Sonora and Chihuahua to work in the mines and promised decent wages and opportunities for advancement.  Instead, a two-tiered wage system was put into place and the better jobs went to Anglo Americans; practices that would last nearly 50 years.  Mexican and Mexican American miners organized mutual aid societies and, emboldened by their experiences in World War II, succeeded in forming the Mexican Union to address discrimination and unequal pay.

Keywords: labor relations.


Mi otro yo … My Other Self. Dir. Amy and Philip Brookman, 1988
Call number: Sonya Haynes Black Cultural Center (personal collection of Dr. Joseph Jordan)
Filming locations: California (San Diego, Oakland, San Francisco, Los Angeles).
Duration: 26 mins.
Summary: Through interviews this documentary broaches various ways in which artists conceive a Chicana/o identity.  Often times placed in a lineage that starts with the Aztecs, the Chicana/o artists in this film tackle issues of marginalization and assimilation within a dominant U.S. culture, and how their work may operate as political activism.  The film is narrated by Guillermo Gomez-Peña and includes interviews with artists, filmmakers, and authors including Amalia Mesa-Bains, Luis Valdez, Judy Baca, and Daniel Valdez.

Keywords: art, California, Chicana/o identity.


Mur Murs. Dir. Agnes Varda. Criterion Collection, 1980.
Call number: 65-DVD16683 v.3 (Media Resource Center; Library Use Only. Included as part of the compilation Tout(e) Varda); streaming available through the Criterion Chanel.
Filming location: Los Angeles, CA.
Duration: 82 mins.
Summary: With lavish, calculated kaleidoscopic cinematography, Mur Murs documents the myriad murals of Los Angeles, California in the late 1970s and early 1980s. The film lovingly explores the historic, aesthetic, and political dimensions of Los Angeles’s most accessible mode of public art, charting how walls serve as sites through which community is consolidated and the city’s history negotiated. Featuring interviews with muralists and community members as well as live music and dance performances (including appearances by the Chicano punk band, Los Illegals), Varda pays considerable attention to the work of Chicana/o cultural producers, ruminating on the inextricable relationship between art and quotidian life.

Keywords: Public art; Chicana/o studies; Los Angeles; Latinas/os as gang members; labor issues.


Nana. Dir. Tatiana Fernández Geara. Cine Carmelita, 2015.

Runtime: 70 minutes.

Access: Kanopy (requires login, but is free for students with library request)

Summary: This film, produced as part of director Tatiana Fernández Geara’s master’s degree program at the University of Missouri, is an intimate, low-budget production that follows the lives of three Dominican live-in nannies caring for children in the United States. Compellingly, the film attends both to the lives and working conditions of the nannies and to the lives of their own children in the Dominican Republic. The film is especially useful for any scholar of Latina and immigrant labor, Latinas in the domestic space, and transnational family life.

Tags: domestic workers, Dominican Republic, Dominican diaspora, labor, Latinas in the United States, Miami, motherhood


No Grapes. United Farm Workers, 1992.
Call number:  (Media Resource Center; Library Use Only)
Filming locations: California.
Duration: 14 mins.
Summary: While acknowledging past activism by the United Farm Workers (UFW), No Grapes recounts the UFW’s grape boycott in 1992.  High levels of cancer rates among farm workers, birth defects among farm workers’ children, and pollution moved the UFW and its allies to action.  The filmmakers rely on interviews with farm workers, activists (Cesar Chavez), celebrities (Martin Sheen and Edward James Olmos, among others), and government officials.

Keywords: California, domestic workers.


Nuyrocian Poets Café. Dir. Ray Santisteban. 1994.

Runime: 14 minutes.

Access: Good Docs

Summary: This short film offers a glimpse into the eponymous café in New York’s Alphabet City, which has served as a hotspot for the Nuyorican Arts Movement since the 1960s. Santisteban’s direction—which, anticipating his work in Voices from Texas—offers a human glimpse at both the foundational Nuyorican poets and younger voices, from Miguel Algarin and Pietro Pietri to Willie Perdomo and Carmen Bardeguez-Brown. In keeping with Santisteban’s interest in multiply mediated films—folding poetry into film and vice versa—the film features filmic poetry readings, including a stylized version of Pietri’s “Puerto Rican Obituary.”


Oaxacalifornia. Dir. Sylvia Stevens. Faction Films and Citron Nueve Producciones, 1994.
Call number: 65-V6904 (Media Resource Center: Library Use Only)
Filming locations: Fresno, CA; Jaltepec, Oaxaca, México.
Duration: 58 mins.
Summary: This documentary is composed of numerous interviews with a family originally from Oaxaca, but have lived in Fresno, California for 24 years.  Each family member, irrespective of being born in Mexico or the U.S., describes their conceptions of a kind of transnational Oaxacan/Mexican identity maintained through selective traditions.  The family travels to Jaltepec, Oaxaca once or twice per year to attend town festivals and to maintain a house at which they all intend to eventually move.  Both family members and inhabitants of Jaltepec describe how the return of former residents of the town change the community’s dynamic.

Keywords: U.S.(California)-Mexico border, transnationalism, identity.


Oaxacan Hoops. Dir. Olga R. Rodriguez, 2003.
Call number: Sonya Haynes Black Cultural Center (personal collection of Dr. Joseph Jordan)
Filming locations: Los Angeles, CA; Oaxaca, Mexico.
Duration: 20 mins.
Summary: As Oaxcan Hoops testifies, basketball is wildly popular among Zapotecs in the state of Oaxaca in southern Mexico.  Communities build gyms and teams composed of men and women compete on a regular basis in tournaments.  Lending a transnational dimension to the film, Zapotecs carry with them their passion for basketball to Los Angeles as they migrate in greater numbers to the United States.  Basketball in the context of Los Angeles takes on a greater importance for some Zapotecs and the sport helps them to maintain their communities in the U.S. and their ties to the communities in Mexico.

Keywords: sports, transnationalism. California.


La Ofrenda. Dir. Lourdes Portillo and Susana Muñoz. Xochitl Films, 1989.
Call number: 65-V8038 (Media Resource Center; Library Use Only); or ISA Film Collection (VHS)
Filming locations: Oaxaca, Mexico; Mexico City, Mexico; San Francisco, CA.
Duration: 56 mins.
Summary: Through a fractured narration, this documentary film depicts Day of the Dead festivities in Oaxaca, Mexico and San Francisco, California.  The celebrations in different locations speak to the organic nature of cultural practices, and the transformations such practices undergo in different contexts.  Communities and individuals in Oaxaca and San Francisco mark the celebrations in distinct ways within public and private spaces.

Keywords: cultural transformations, Day of the Dead, Mexico/U.S. cultural practices.


On the Divide Dir. Leah Galant & Maya Cueva. POV, American Documentary Inc., Latino Public Broadcasting, 2021.

Runtime: 79 minutes.

Access: GoodDocs (Requires license)

Summary: This Tribeca-selected documentary follows Mercedes, Rey, and Denisse, whose lives are entwined by their proximity to the last abortion clinic on the border between the U.S. and Mexico. The film is especially noteworthy in that, besides centering the Latinx perspective, it offers a view of the abortion debate that goes deeper than typical dichotomies and narratives: each of the three subjects has not only a complex set of opinions but also a wide web of material commitments. The film is a must-see for scholars of reproductive justice, immigration, multinationalism, political violence, religion, and more.

Tags: abortion, U.S./Mexico border, reproductive rights, reproductive justice, Latinas in film, violence, Latina/os and medicine


Palante Siempre Palante. Dir. Iris Morales. SubCine, 1996.
Call number: 65-V5984 (Media Resource Center; Library Use Only)
Filming locations: New York, NY; Chicago IL; Philadelphia, PA; San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Duration: 57 mins.
Summary: Inspired by the Black Panthers and galvanized by anti-Vietnam War protests and the feminist movement in the early 1970s, the Young Lords organized within low class urban communities for causes such as access to better health care, living conditions, and education, and eventually independence for Puerto Rico from the U.S.  Palante portrays the emergence and growth of the Young Lords from Puerto Rican barrios, details its impressive victories, often criticizes its machista and militant structure, and shows the organization’s eventual demise.  Interviews with former members, archival footage, music, and photo stills gives a window into the Young Lords and its historical context.

Keywords: Puerto Ricans, New York, machismo, Afro-Latina/o identities.


Paris is Burning. Dir. Jennie Livingston. Off White Productions, 1990.
Call number: 65-DVD12049 c.2 (Media Resources Center: In-Library Use Only)
Filming location: New York City, NY.
Duration: 78 Minutes
Summary: Chronicling the “Golden Age” of New York City vogue balls, Paris is Burning documents the culture and experiences of Queer minority communities in the mid-to-late 1980s, focusing on the DIY “House” scene. Filming in cinema verité style, director Jennie Livingston immortalizes runway legends like Willi Ninja, Pepper LaBeija, Avis Pendavis, and Venus Xtravaganza, by juxtaposing ballroom sequences, interviews, and snapshots of their lives—both within and beyond clubs and streets. Set against the backdrop of AIDS and gentrification, the film features a meticulous selection of music and careful use of color, effectively highlighting the glamour, ecstasies and hardships of a tight-knit community during a defining moment of cultural transition.

Keywords: LGBTQ+; New York; Latina/o youth; African-American identities; history; gentrification.


El poder del pueblo: una lucha colectiva por la vida y el medioambiente. Dir. José Luis Baerga Aguirre, Coal Ash Mitigation Fund, University of Colorado Denver, Waterhouse Family Institute, Willamette University, and Working Films, 2021.

Call number: N/A (access via
Filming location: Jobos Bay, Puerto Rico
Duration: 41 minutes.
Summary: El poder del pueblo puts people power at its core in everything, including not just its content but its form and production. The film itself explores the experiences of the residents of Jobos Bay, Puerto Rico, as they grapple against toxic power plants in their community—and rather than take an outsider perspective to “extract” these stories, as conventional European and U.S. documentaries might, the documentarians take up their positionality as members of the Jobos Bay community in order to document the residents’ active struggle for justice. In other words, where other documentaries are framed around outsiders venturing into “exotic” environments and objectifying their subjects, the subjects take the lead in this film.


Revelaciones / Revelations: Hispanic Art of Evanescence. Dir. Edin Velez. 1994.
Call number: ISA Film Collection (VHS)
Filming locations: Ithaca, NY.
Duration: 28 mins.
Summary: The film documents the work of 8 Latina/o artists who were commissioned to do work for a exhibition at Cornell University in 1993 entitled “Revelaciones / Revelations: Hispanic Art of Evanescence.”  The exhibition was curated by Chon Noriega and José Piedra and lasted only 6 weeks.  Interviews with the artists provide a window into their pieces, and footage and interviews with students at Cornell show how the art, especially a piece by Daniel J. Martinez, has the capacity to provoke reactions and ultimately change an environment.  The 8 artists are: Gronk, Amalia Mesa-Bains, Ronald Gonzalez, María Brito, Raphael Montañez Ortiz, Celia Alvarez Muñoz, Rimer Cardillo, and Daniel J. Martinez.

Keywords: Latina/o identity, art.


A Rising Voice. Dir. Colleen Casto. KUED Home Video, 1991.
Call number: 65-V3602 (Media Resources Center; Library Use Only)
Filming locations: Utah
Duration: 55 mins.
Summary: A Rising Voice highlights the diversity among Latinas/os in Utah and how Latinas/os are often ignored by the majority white population.  The film explores the history of how and/or why various Latina/o groups came to Utah and how Latinas/os are evolving into a political force in state institutions.  The film is careful to distinguish the various Latina/o communities (i.e., Mexicans are not Uruguyans, etc.) and showing how the different groups maintain their collective identities through daily activities.

Keywords: assimilation, cultural integration, immigration, Latina/o identity.


Romántico. Dir. Mark Becker. Kino, 2007.
Call number: 65-DVD5261 (Media Resource Center; Library Use Only)
Filming locations: Salvatierra, Guanajuato, Mexico; San Francisco, CA.
Duration: 80 mins.
Summary: By day, Carlos Muñiz washes cars and, at night, he morphs into a mariachi musician playing ranchero and norteño tunes for tips in the restaurants and bars of San Francisco.  Carlos supports his wife, two daughters, and mother in Salvatierra, Guanajuato (Mexico) by sending portions of his wages.  Despite often talking by phone, Carlos has not seen his family in years and, upon his return to Salvatierra, he must contend with the financial strains he sought to escape when he left for the U.S.

Keywords: U.S.-Mexico border (California), transnationalism, music.


Roots of Migration. Dir. Mikel Barton. Witness for Peace, 2009.
Call number: ISA Film Library (DVD)
Duration: 20 mins.
Filming locations: Oaxaca, Mexico
Summary: Witness for Peace is a U.S.-based activist organization that grew out of opposition to the Reagan Administration’s policies in Nicaragua during the 1980s.  In 2009, a group of 20 Witness for Peace members traveled to Oaxaca, Mexico to gain a better understanding for the reasons for migration to the United States, and Roots of Migration documents that trip.  Through interviews with residents, the film provides personalized insights into economic forces and arrangements, including NAFTA, that have caused many Mexicans, among others, to reluctantly leave their countries to seek employment in the U.S.

Keywords: globalization, immigration.


Señora Extraviada. Dir. Lourdes Portillo.
Call number: ISA Film Collection (DVD)
Filming locations: Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico; El Paso, TX.
Duration: 74 mins.
Summary:  With typical acumen and care, Lourdes Portillo sheds a crucial light on the gruesome murders of hundreds of women taking place in Ciudad Juárez, often referred to as “femicidio”/”feminicidio” (often translated “femicide” or “gendercide” in English).  Portillo leaves few stones unturned as she explores different leads and rumors surrounding the killings, such as police collusion with the murderers, the use of the young women in sacrificial cult rituals, and the scapegoating of Abdul Latif Sharif, an Egyptian immigrant.  Given the proliferation of maquiladoras in Ciudad Juárez following NAFTA in 1994, the murders also function as a point of departure to explore Ciudad Juárez as the “city of the future,” presenting a sinister side of globalization.  Originally broadcast on PBS, the continued disappearances of young women in Juárez and the apathy of investigative police bodies in the U.S. and Mexico make Portillo’s documentary all the more significant.

Keywords: U.S.-Mexican border (El Paso-Ciudad Juárez), Latina directors, globalization, violence.


The Shaman’s Apprentice. Dir. Miranda Smith. Bullfrog Films, 2001.
Call number: Streaming available through DocuSeek (UNC Libraries)
Filming location: Amazon River Region, Suriname.
Duration: 54 Minutes.
Summary: Adapted from the bestselling 1993 memoir Tales of a Shaman’s Apprentice: An Ethnobotanist Searches for New Medicine in the Rain Forest, The Shaman’s Apprentice charts the work of Dr. Mark J. Plotkin, who has dedicated his career to study the relationship between indigenous people and plants in the Northeastern Amazon. A student of the renown ethnopsychopharmacologist Dr. Richard Evans Schultes, Plotkin arrived in Suriname the late 1970s, where he lived alongside the Tiriyó people and documented their medicinal traditions. Since his arrival in Latin America, Dr. Plotkin has partnered with Liliana Madrigal to form the Amazon Conservation Team and, in 2019, was awarded the Shinagel Award for Public Service from Harvard University Extension, “in recognition of his lifelong commitment to the protection of the Amazon rainforest and the tribal communities within.”

Keywords: ethnobotany; environmental films; traditional medicine; Shamanism; conservation.


Street Heroines. Dir. Alexandra Henry. Some Serious Business, Valiant Pictures, 2021.

Runtime: 72 minutes.

Access: Educational access

Summary: A must-see film for any scholar of Latinx art or street culture, Street Heroines follows three female graffiti writers—one Ecuadoran-American, one Mexican, and one Brazilian—who seek to make a name for themselves in a subculture largely dominated by men and male role models. Although each artist grapples with different personal and existential issues through their art, they are untied in the collective effort to overcome the sexism embedded in the art world. The film is striking both for its multinational storytelling and its implicit dialogue with male-centric graffiti documentaries, like Exit Through the Gift Shop.

Tags: art, Brazilians, Ecuadoran Americans, feminism, graffiti, Latinas, Mexicans, multinationalism, street culture, transnationalism


Struggle in the Fields. NLCC Educational Media, 1996.
Call number: 65-V9772 (Media Resource Center)
Filming locations: Delano, CA; San Joaquin Valley, CA; Sacramento, CA; Chicago, IL.
Duration: 57 mins.
Summary: Struggle in the Fields is episode 2 of the PBS video series Chicano! History of the Mexican American Civil Rights Movement.  The film provides an excellent historical overview of the genesis of the Chicano Civil Rights Movement, and contains archival and present day interviews with César Chavez, Dolores Huerta, Luis Valdez, and Ester Hernandez, among others.  In addition, there are interviews with several farm owners and lawyers who played a key role in the 5-year strike by the National Farm Workers’ Association (eventually called United Farm Workers).  The film also broaches the role of Teatro Campesino and other arts in the farm workers’ movement, and concludes with how the strike inspired Chicana/o youth.

Keywords: Chicana/o history, Chicana/o civil rights movement, farm workers, social justice.


Viva la causa. Dir. Alonso F. Mayo and Bill Brummel. Teaching Tolerance, 2008.
Call number: 65-DVD7313 (Media Resources Center)
Filming locations: California and includes archive footage from various metropolitan cities such as Cleveland, New York, and St. Louis.
Duration: 48 mins.
Summary: Through reenactments and documentary footage, Viva la causa relates the beginnings of the United Farm Workers (UFW) in the early 1960s and its efforts to improve labor conditions for farm workers, the overwhelming majority who were Mexican and Mexican-Americans at the time.  While César Chávez and Dolores Huerta might constitute protagonists in the narrative, the film highlights the collective efforts against industrial farm companies, particularly grape growers.  The film also historically contextualizes the UFW’s struggles within a larger U.S. context through the presidential campaign of Bobby Kennedy and collaboration between the UFW and a Filipino farm workers’ union.

Keywords: California, Chicana/o culture, history.


Voices from Texas. Dir. Ray Santisteban. IVTS, KLRN/San Antonio. 2002

Runtime: 55 minutes.

Access: Available online

Summary: For those interested in studying poetic language in Chicano life, Voices from Texas is an intriguing, albeit dated, exploration of the personal and political stakes for producing poetry. Featuring Sandra Cisneros, Raul Salinas, Pat Mora, Tammy Gomez, Carmen Tafolla, and Jesse Cardona, this film roves its gaze from border towns to dense urban areas in order to examine the intricacies of Mexican-American literary output, including cultural context, historical understanding, and existential concerns. Of special interest in this documentary is its interest in remediation: the film offers cinematic poetry readings, enfolding its subjects’ language into the cinematic form.

Keywords: Texas, Chicana/o culture, poetry, history, Mexican-Americans, Mexico.


Yo Soy Boricua, Pa’que tú lo sepas! (I am Boricua, Just So You Know!). Dir. Rosie Perez. Independent Film Channel, 2006.
Call number: Sonya Haynes Black Cultural Center (personal collection of Dr. Joseph Jordan)
Filming locations: New York, New York; Puerto Rico.
Duration: 86 mins.
Summary: Often anchored by her personal experiences, Rosie Perez directs this documentary that broaches numerous topics related to Puerto Rican/Nuyorican identity.  Yo Soy Boricua explores the fervent passions of Puerto Ricans living in New York City, the various ethnic identities that compose Puerto Rico (indigenous, European, and African), and problematizes a singular notion of identity for those living between cultures.  Perez also uses archival footage of independence movements in Puerto Rico and the Young Lords in the U.S. to give a crucial historical dimension to the film, and foregrounds the often colonial relationship between the U.S. and Puerto Rico.

Keywords: Afro-Latina/o identities, cultural integration, history, identity, New York City.


Zoot Suit Riots. Dir. Joseph Tovares. , 2002.
Call number: ISA Film Collection (DVD) and Media Resource Center (65-V8496; Library Use Only)
Filming location: Los Angeles, CA.
Duration: 60 mins.
Summary: Part of the American Experience series on PBS, Zoot Suit Riots portrays the historical contexts surrounding the race riots in Los Angeles that took place during World War II, beginning in July of 1943.  The film provides an excellent background to the riots describing the marginalization of Mexicans in Los Angeles following the end of the Mexican-American War in 1848, the Sleepy Lagoon Trial of 1942, and the complex racial tensions that pervaded the city during the 1940s that reached a head when white servicemen targeted Chicana/o youths en masse.  Interviews with historians and participants on various sides of the riots gives an admirable overview of the Zoot Suit Riots and underscores their continued relevance for understanding race relations in Los Angeles.

Keywords: Chicanas/os, Los Angeles, violence, masculinity.


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