The Plight of Immigrant Workers Fighting for Fair Working Conditions in “Building the American Dream” Tuesday, September 15 at 10 pm

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Latino Public Broadcasting’s VOCES Presents

“Building the American Dream”

Tuesday, September 15, 2020 at 10 pm


New Documentary Chronicles the Plight of Immigrant Construction Workers Fighting for Fair Working Conditions

Latino Public Broadcasting (LPB) announced that the new VOCES special, “Building the American Dream,” premieres Tuesday, September 15, 2020, 10:00-11:00 p.m. PBS, and the PBS Video app. Produced and directed by Chelsea Hernandez, “Building the American Dream” tells the powerful story of immigrant construction workers fighting for justice in an industry rife with exploitation.

Claudia and Alex are electricians working in Texas who emigrated from El Salvador
Claudia and Alex are electricians working in Texas who emigrated from El Salvador

“Building the American Dream” takes viewers to Texas, the site of a massive construction boom heralded as the “Texas Miracle.” Its dirty secret: the abuse of immigrant workers. The film captures the rise of a workers’ movement, fighting widespread construction industry injustices – from non-payment of wages to deadly work conditions.

Grieving their son who died a heat-related death on a construction site, the Granillo family campaigns for a much-needed safety law that would allow workers 10-minute breaks for every four hours of labor. Claudia and Alex, a Salvadoran couple, are skilled electricians owed thousands in back pay who fight for their children’s future. And Christian, a bereaved son, hopes to protect others from his family’s preventable tragedy. Through their stories of courage, resilience and community, the film reveals eye-opening truths about the hardworking immigrants who build our American Dream.

The Granillo family lost their son, brother and father, Roendy Granillo, to heat illness on the job
The Granillo family lost their son, brother and father, Roendy Granillo, to heat illness on the job

 “We’re proud to present this timely documentary about Latino essential workers who are advocating for more equitable working conditions,” said Sandie Viquez Pedlow, executive director of LPB and executive producer of VOCES. “As we hear about the Latino workers whose jobs are considered essential and are bearing a disproportionate burden during this pandemic, this film is a stark reminder of all the Latinos who work in dangerous conditions to keep our nation running during good times and bad.”

 Building the American Dream” is a production of Panda Bear Films in association with Latino Public Broadcasting. Major funding was provided by the Ford Foundation, Tribeca Film Institute, Firelight Media, Seed & Spark, Adaptive Studios, City of Austin, BAVC National Mediamaker Program, Austin Film Society, Marcy Garriott, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and is a presentation of Austin PBS.


About the Filmmaker

Chelsea Hernandez (Producer/Director) is an Emmy® Award-winning Mexican-American filmmaker based in Austin, Texas, named one of Texas Monthly’s “10 Filmmakers on the Rise.” Chelsea began her career in media at the ripe age of nine, hosting and co-producing a local children’s educational TV program with her mother. Chelsea received a B.S. from the University of Texas, the first in her Latino family to earn a college degree. She began her documentary career right out of college, as associate producer and assistant editor of the national PBS special, Fixing the Future, hosted by David Brancaccio and directed by Ellen Spiro, and the national six-part series Ancient Roads from Christ to Constantine directed by Hector Galán. From 2013 to 2016, Chelsea was the primary editor and co-producer of Arts in Context, a documentary series produced at KLRU-TV and distributed by NETA. Chelsea has directed and produced various documentary films, including See the Dirt (Austin Film Festival Short Documentary Winner) and, most recently, An Uncertain Future (SXSW Texas Jury Winner, AspenShorts Youth Jury Winner, CineFestival Short Winner). Chelsea is a NALIP Latino Media Market fellow, Firelight Media Doc Lab Fellow, Tribeca Storylab Fellow, Tribeca All Access Recipient, BAVC National Mediamaker Fellow and UC Berkeley Investigative Reporting Workshop Fellow.