Working in the industry for three decades, Chilean-American filmmaker Miguel Picker has seen first-hand the disparities that exist in the entertainment business.
Picker, who is based out of New York, edited and composed music for Borinqueneers, a documentary chronicling the Puerto Rican 65th Infantry that premiered on PBS four years ago. His credits among others include Frontline, La Plaza and Greater Boston Arts.
Picker said there has been a lack of funding for Latino programming and a lack of priority in promoting Latinos.
"You had to be fighting all the time in order to participate in being a part of an institution that actually was not very inclusive for Latinos," Picker said. "It is unacceptable that in television shows we don't see a staff of writers, producers, actors that are representative of the society that we live," Picker said," he added.
Picker, along with filmmaker Chyng Sun, channeled that frustration in the 84-minute documentary, "Latinos Beyond Reel," that examines how U.S. news and entertainment media portray Latinos. It features interviews with playwright Josefina Lopez, actor Luis Antonio Ramos, filmmaker Alex Rivera and others.
The film, distributed by the Media Education Foundation, was self-funded, said Lorena Manriquez, one of the film's producers.
Because the documentary was so critical of the media and its stance on Latinos, Manriquez said it was challenging to acquire funding. "I think that's the biggest merit in this film. Because of that, we were able to be very free with what we said and how it was told. We didn't have any censorship," Manriquez said.
The film's trailer begins with footage of the unrest in Anaheim after police killed two Latino men and features news clips reporting the increase in hate crimes against Latinos.
"Latinos Beyond Reel" argues that unconscious racism exists due to the distorted images of Latinos in the media.
Added Picker: "It presents the problem and I hope this film inspires Latinos to actually think about ourselves and how we can move things in the right direction for us."
The documentary has been shown in universities and has been screened in New York and San Francisco film festivals. On Tuesday, December 10, the National Association of Hispanic Journalists-Los Angeles Chapter is co-sponsoring a screening of the film at the Writers Guild of America, 7000 W. Third St. Los Angeles. A panel will follow. Co-sponsors include the Media Image Coalition, Open Lens Media, Andes Media, and the Bradford Advocacy Group.