Documentaries to Watch for Hispanic Heritage Month

Documentaries to Watch for Hispanic Heritage Month

Happy Hispanic Heritage Month! We are proud to spotlight these award-winning independent documentaries that honor the culture, contributions, and stories of Latino communities. We hope you will bring these films to your school, organization, or community to help uplift the important histories and issues explored in these films year-round!

To see more films, explore our entire collection of Latina/Latino Studies films and speakers!

All of these films are available in a variety of streaming and purchase options through GOOD DOCS for screening events, classroom use, library collections, and more!


Ramon "Chunky" Sanchez and friends at a protest holding guitars.

 From farmworker to receiving one of the nation’s highest musical honors, SINGING OUR WAY TO FREEDOM chronicles the life of Mexican- American musician and social activist, Ramon “Chunky” Sanchez. As a young man in the 1970s, a time when young Mexican Americans became Chicanos, Chunky joined the picket lines in California and became Cesar Chavez’s favorite musician. His arc of transformation from marginalized farm kid to charismatic social activist shows how one person can mobilize people to change the world.



Young Maria Moreno speaking to a man and woman.

 Before the launch of the United Farm Workers by Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta, there was Maria Moreno, a migrant mother and outspoken leader in the passionate pursuit of justice for farmworkers. A forgotten hero who sacrificed everything but her twelve kids to weaponize her voice and stand up in an era when women were relegated to the background. The first farm worker woman in America to be hired as a union organizer, Maria’s story was silenced and her legacy buried—until now.



Cesar Chavez in black and white holding a shovel

 A Sundance feature documentary about the private sacrifice and spiritual conviction behind César Chavez’s struggle for the humane treatment of America’s farmworkers. A panorama of Mexican American history, civil rights, labor struggles, and Catholic & Indigenous religious practices. Features unprecedented insight into Chavez's life, the historic farmworker movement, and never-before-seen footage of Chavez’s 1988 “Fast for Life,” a 36-day act of self-imposed penance in response to the resistance he faced in his quest to stop growers from spraying pesticide on farmworkers. 



Maria Figueroa in front of Supreme Court

 This Emmy-nominated classic documentary tells the story of Mexican immigrant mothers who, with the help of a young Chicana lawyer, sued doctors, the state, and the U.S. government after they were sterilized while giving birth during the 1970s. Their efforts led to their landmark 1975 civil rights lawsuit, Madrigal v. Quilligan, which asserted that a woman’s right to bear a child is guaranteed under the Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade. It celebrates the significant contribution of Chicana activists who sought to redefine reproductive politics to include the needs of poor women and women of color.



Woman and man with construction gear

 Across Texas, an unstoppable construction boom drives urban sprawl and luxury high-rises. Its dirty secret: abuse of immigrant labor. BUILDING THE AMERICAN DREAM captures a turning point as a movement forms to fight widespread construction industry injustices. A story of courage, resilience, and community, the film reveals shocking truths about the hardworking immigrants who build the American Dream, from which they are excluded.



DACA recipient, Silvia, at a rally

 Follow the lives of three DACA students in Georgia, a state where DACA recipients are banned from attending its top public universities and from qualifying for in-state tuition at other public colleges. Through their stories, viewers learn what it's like to be both a young American and undocumented in the U.S. at a time when anti-immigrant sentiment is high. This film humanizes the experience of undocumented and DACA students and shares how through underground movements such as Freedom University, they can find support and community. 



Little girl standing in front of rubble in the Bronx

In the 1970s, the Bronx was on fire. Abandoned by the city government, nearly a half-million people were displaced as their close-knit, multi-ethnic neighborhood burned, reducing the community to rubble. While insidious government policies caused the devastation, Black and Puerto Rican residents bore the blame. In this story of hope and resistance, Bronx-born Vivian Vázquez Irizarry exposes the truth about the borough’s untold history and reveals how her embattled and maligned community chose to resist, remain and rebuild. 



Peer counselor, Christine, running a workshop

People from low-income backgrounds are increasingly excluded from higher education. One major cause: they don’t have access to essential resources, including college counseling support. In this Emmy® nominated documentary, we follow three young students who have chosen to do something about this problem, by becoming the very resource they don't have for themselves by working tirelessly as peer college counselors to realize better futures for themselves and their peers. They struggle and they stumble, but refuse to succumb to the barriers that prevent so many low-income students from attending and graduating from college.



Noel Anaya looking through documents

 While most young adults look to their parents for answers about identity and upbringing, Noel Anaya turns to court records and social workers. After 20 years in foster care, Anaya was never adopted. He was determined to investigate what went wrong and as Anaya untangles his own unique story, he is led to a wider examination that reveals the social welfare system’s silent but pervasive systemic bias against families of color and teenagers. 



Student from Watts doing math on whiteboard

 The story of Victor Rios - a high school dropout, gang member, and three-time felon by 15 whose life path takes an unlikely turn with the convergence of a teacher’s quiet persistence, a mentor’s moral conviction, and his best friend’s murder. Two decades later Rios - a 36-year-old tenured UC professor, author, and national thought leader on the school-to-prison pipeline - gets a call from his high school mentor, Martín Flores. Flores directs a program serving young adults who haven’t finished high school and requests Rios to help “...get them on the right path now, or we lose them to the system.” Woven with footage of Rios’ own troubled adolescence and including the contemporary story of this fateful summer, this film examines crucial questions of race, class, power, and the American dream at a particularly urgent time.



Ilmar and Aldo paying instruments

 Virtuoso Afro-Cuban-born brothers—violinist Ilmar and pianist Aldo—live on opposite sides of a geopolitical chasm a half-century wide. Tracking their parallel lives in New York and Havana, their poignant reunion, and their momentous first performances together, LOS HERMANOS/THE BROTHERS offers a nuanced, often startling view of estranged nations through the lens of music and family.