Latinos Beyond Reel: Challenging a Media Stereotype

Latinos are the fastest-growing segment of the U.S. population, and among the most diverse -- accounting for one-sixth of all Americans and tracing their origins to more than 20 countries. They are also a rising force in American politics. Yet across the American media landscape, from the broadcast airwaves to cable television and Hollywood film, the reality and richness of the Latino experience are virtually nowhere to be found.
In Latinos Beyond Reel, filmmakers Miguel Picker and Chyng Sun examine how US news and entertainment media portray—and do not portray—Latinos. Drawing on the insights of Latino scholars, journalists, community leaders, actors, directors, and producers, they uncover a pattern of gross misrepresentation and gross under-representation—a world in which Latinos tend to appear, if at all, as gangsters and Mexican bandits, harlots and prostitutes, drug dealers and welfare-leeching illegals.

The film challenges viewers to think critically about the wide-ranging effects of these media stereotypes, and to envision alternative representations and models of production more capable of capturing the humanity and diversity of real Latinos.

Filmmakers Miguel Picker & Chyng Sun Running Time 84 mins Production Year 2012 Language English


"Latinos Beyond Reel is a comprehensive and powerful exploration of stereotypes of Latinos and Latinas in American media. Whether one dimensional representations are in film, cartoons, television shows, or in news the documentary makes clear that the effects are powerful, not only on Latinos but also on other populations' perceptions of Latinos. By examining both historical and contemporary representations, animated or actual, the film shows how stereotypes go beyond the symbolic realm and can harm the minds and bodies of Latinos, particularly children."

—Debra Merskin, Ph.D., Professor of Communication at the University of Oregon | Author of Media, Minorities, and Meaning: A Critical Introduction

Tijuana, Nada Mas

Jonathan (“Pollo”) and Enrique (“Gordo”) are 14-year old orphans making their own living on the streets of Tijuana, the busiest frontier city in the world. Jonathan assists the “Coyotes” in smuggling people across the Mexico/U.S. border and Enrique blows fireballs for entertainment. 

This film is a heart-wrenching glimpse into the lives of two boys struggling to survive within the confines of geographical and cultural borders. Over a seven-month period, Jonathan abandons his life as a “Coyote” to try to live under the care of a foster mother and Enrique maintains, “Here is beautiful.” TIJUANA, NADA MAS examines the invisible and more immediate boundaries of these boys’ lives—discrimination, poverty, uncertainty—and asks: How can you cross a border that exists beneath the surface? Is there really an “other side”?

Filmmaker Yolanda Pividal Running Time 27 mins Production Year 2010 Language Spanish with English Subtitles


Emerging Latino Filmmaker Award at the Independent Film Week, IFP/ Fledgling Fund, Student Academy Awards Finalist, David L. Wolper Best Student Doc Award Nominee, International Documentary Association, We Believe In You Award, Tides Fund/Chicken & Egg Pictures