Chilean-American Miguel Picker’s Film “Latinos Beyond Reel” Is Intent on Challenging a Media Stereotype

By Miguel Picker and Chyng Sun

A documentary film that investigates how Latinos are marginalized and vilified in the mainstream media—with  grave consequences for the nation. 

One in six adults and one in four children in the United States are Latinos, but their reality is rarely depicted in the mainstream media. Interviews with scholars, actors, filmmakers, and a group of Latino children reveal a striking pattern: in both news and entertainment, Latinos appear overwhelmingly as gangsters, drug dealers, prostitutes, “hoochie mamas,” and welfare-leeching “illegals.” Most disturbingly, even children’s games depict the killing of Mexicans.  The film shows how a narrow range of misrepresentation, combined with hate speech against undocumented immigrants and Latinos, has deeply affected children and had devastating consequences for this nation as a whole.

Director’s Statement (From Miguel Picker):

As a Chilean American who came to the U.S. right after the popularly elected President Salvador Allende was toppled by a CIA-sponsored coup in 1973, I experienced firsthand how the U.S. mainstream media had the power to distort reality and to make my lived experience unintelligible to most people. The same injustice is keenly experienced by millions of Latinos today.

Our crew interviewed a group of Latino children and when we showed them old and recent cartoon clips with animal characters, the children identified Latino characters by their Spanish accents (ironically voiced by white actors), and described them as “crazy,” “drunk,” “stealing money,” and “bad.” When we asked these children what Latino people they liked on TV or in films, most of them could not name any. When we asked them if they would create a Latino hero if they could make a movie, a nine-year-old boy said, “I couldn’t imagine a Latino person to be a main character for a film because a lot of the movies I watch, usually, all the main characters are Americans.” I was deeply saddened by that comment- indeed, what children have seen will affect what they can imagine.

At the same time, I saw that anti-immigration laws were being proposed and passed in many states, and a central provision of these laws that may lead to racial profiling was even upheld by the Supreme Court.  I also came across top-selling video games such asBorder Patrol that present mass killings of Mexicans who are crossing the borders as fun and exciting.  In social media sites, I found many videos of teenagers and young children playing games of capturing, beating, stabbing, and shooting “illegal immigrants,” “Mexicans,” and “beaners.” I wondered: If these children are not provided with accurate information and alternative visions now, how will they ever be able to “unlearn” their perceptions of Latinos before reaching adulthood? Or will their current beliefs only be further reified by media distortion?

From all the media projects that I’ve participated in, I feel the most urgency for this film. I hope you share the same conviction with me: Latinos Beyond Reel must be made and must be seen.

Project Status:

So far, this film has been completely self-financed. Your generous support will help us finish the film (color correction, sound design, and audio mix). It will also help us to get the film shown in festivals, museums, community centers, and outreach programs.  Please support us. Donations are 100% tax deductible.


Your help is deeply appreciated. If you have any questions, please contact us at

Latinos Beyond Reel Team (partial):

Director and Producer:
Miguel Picker
Chyng Sun

Edwin Pagan
Lorena Manriquez

Associate Producer:
Ronelle Rodriguez Torres

Assistant Producer:
Quantrell Jackson

Production Coordinator:
Rhon Flatts

Senior Consultant:
Patti DeRosa

Re-recording Mixer and Sound Designer:
Francisco Monroy

Open Lens Media is a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization.  All of your donations are tax deductible.


3 Responses to “Chilean-American Miguel Picker’s Film “Latinos Beyond Reel” Is Intent on Challenging a Media Stereotype”

  1. Real racial differences are NOT biological, but social. Thank you for your great efforts to counteract such media distortions that in turn affects us socially.

  2. The Balkanization of the US will be because Anglo America in unwilling and unable to accept the we as Latinos are here have always been here and will always be here.

  3. I wrote two fiction (inspired by truth) young adult Ebook novellas entitled “Monster at My Window” and “Moonshiner The Wolf.” The protagonists are Mexican Americans. I do not use a pseudonym as that would be denouncing my mother and father. Some honest Anglo Americans gave the stories good reviews, but, privately, college educated Mexican American men expressed to me that Anglo names need to be the lead characters if I expect success with the stories, “We learned from them, they drive the industry, and they prefer Anglo American heroes,” they said. Like you in your field, I shall in my field continue to write true and fictitious stories with both Latino and Anglo lead characters, depending upon the story’s location, population, and time frame. Sincerely, Nancy Reil Riojas, Texas Ebook Author,,,,,

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