One of the new programs spotlighted this month is VOCES, a showcase of documentaries that celebrate the rich diversity of the Latino cultural experience, that will premiere in conjunction with Hispanic Heritage Month on four consecutive Friday nights.
Executive Director of Latino Public Broadcasting, Sandie Viquez Pedlow, took great care in selecting the four documentaries that make up the series, “I am always looking for stories that are relevant, that take creative risks, that are artfully produced and well told, and have the potential to engage a national audience.”As a result of her thoughtful choices, the current season of VOCES will highlight Latino artists, athletes, and performers in Mexico, Cuba, and the U.S. And for those of you who think public television is boring, get ready to be proven wrong.
The genesis of the series was a few years back and was prompted by a lack of regular Latino-themed programming on public television. “VOCES was launched in 2006 by Luca Bentivoglio, then executive director of Latino Public Broadcasting. Luca had worked for Univision and Telemundo and knew that stations in areas of large Latino populations such as New York, Miami, California, Texas, Chicago and other markets would benefit from more Latino programming to better serve their audience,” says Viquez Pedlow.
A series like VOCES, this year airing nationwide on PBS, is in the unique position to bring Latino stories to a broad general audience. But, Viquez Pedlow feels that even more programming is needed, “I think we need more VOCES on public media and commercial channels and the opportunity to present Latino compelling stories with diverse points of view so they are seen and understood by the American public.” Particularly at times when immigration becomes a hot-button issue, it is vital to have positive stories circulating in the public sphere to help counteract the negative and stereotyped portrayals of Latinos that the mainstream media perpetuates.
In keeping with it’s mission to, “to bring more Latino voices to public media” Latino Public Broadcasting has committed to helping the films reach an even wider audience after their broadcast. “We are focusing on 6 markets with high Latino populations, creating partnerships between public television stations and Latino organizations, museums, schools and universities for screenings, events and online activities to create dialogue around the programs and extend the footprint of the series.”
The hope is that these films will not only entertain but also educate, inform, and transform audiences. It is programs like VOCES that push our stories into the mainstream at a pivotal time in U.S. history. It is a time in which demographics are rapidly changing and where soon minorities may no longer be minorities. It is about time that all Americans celebrate the diversity that this country has to offer.
VOCES ON PBS, premieres this Friday, September 28 and runs on four consecutive Friday nights through October 19 at 10:00 p.m. ET.
Written by Juan Caceres and Vanessa Erazo, LatinoBuzz is a weekly feature onSydneysBuzzthat highlights emerging and established Latino indie talent and upcoming trends in Latino film with the specific objective of presenting a broad range of Latino voices. Follow@LatinoBuzzon twitter.