Rich diversity: Short films in ‘The Latino Experience’ explore range of perspectives

Portrait of Camila Pérez and Daniela del Mar from Letra Chueca Press in “La Tienda.” (Courtesy of Jessica Daugherty)

The Latino experience varies from person to person.

That’s why Wendy Llinás and her team at PBS created the three-part anthology series “The Latino Experience.”

It will premiere at 8 p.m. Tuesday, July 6, on New Mexico PBS, Channel 5.1. It will repeat at 8 p.m. July 13 and 20. The series features 13 original films made by filmmakers working across genres. The shorts explore a wide range of experiences, perspectives and styles to highlight the rich diversity of the Latino community across the United States and Puerto Rico.

Llinás, senior director of programming and development at PBS, says the films are for everyone.

Mom (Adelina Anthony) explains the word “alms” to Bo (Mateo Ray) while eating breakfast in a scene from “The Daily War.” (Courtesy of Silvia Lara)

“The stories are universal,” she says. “It also gives insight to the obstacles that people are going through. … These narrative and scripted shorts reflect the joy, creativity, courage, humor, pain and resilience in our communities with top-notch authentic storytelling that reflects the many lived experiences of Latinos/as/x at this moment in history.”

Films included in “The Latino Experience” were selected from entries received by PBS after a call for submissions in August. Chosen by a panel of experienced filmmakers, the shorts received funding support as well as a national broadcast as part of the series.

Professor Holtz (Dean Kyburz) tells Valentina (Nathalie Carvalho) she’s not able to get the next section of the exam until she returns from breastfeeding in a scene from “Pasos de Valor.” (Courtesy of Nicholas Kalajdzic)

“It takes a village to make this happen,” Llinás says of the series. “I think the hardest part was picking from the submissions, because we had so many great ones. We feel very lucky that the filmmakers trust PBS to showcase these pieces on a greater scale.

Llinás says that each story explores a journey and that he hopes the audience will be on it as well.

“The experience of being human are the stories told,” she says. “There are some talking about the pandemic. It’s a mosaic of stories told through film. That’s the feeling I want folks to come away with. We have so many things in common; it’s our humanity that shines through.”

Another goal for Llinás was to showcase the diversity within Latino communities.

It’s March 13, 2020, in New York City. Maggie awakens, feeling as if she were not alone, in a scene from “Cuban American Gothic.” (Courtesy of Elia Lyssy)

“A difficult part of the process was being sensitive to the world today,” she says. “We needed to find balance between something that is satire and a piece that is more hard hitting and truthful. At the end of the day, it’s storytelling that shines through, and you want something that will make the viewer pause and take notice.”

Llinás’ team continued to work through the pandemic to create the series.

“It’s about bringing new voices to the conversation,” she says. “Each one of the filmmakers does that. They are shining light on an issue they think is important.”

Llinás says the series can also be an entry point for people who are curious and want to explore some of these issues.

Edwin Siguenza stands in front of his home in Torrance, California, in “Body and Spirit in Time of Pandemic.” (Courtesy of Andres Caballero)

“Whether you can relate on a personal level or not, each film is shot beautifully,” she says. “It will be a great showcase, and hopefully we can do this every year. There’s a lot of potential.”




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