Why I made Moving In Place, a documentary about young Puerto Ricans
Over the past year and a half, I poured my entire heart and soul into creating Moving In Place — a documentary film about the experiences of young Puerto Ricans living on and off the island. Meanwhile, the outside world continued to turn.
In this age of rapid-fire news cycles fueled by social media frenzy, issues and events enter the collective consciousness only to disappear in a blip. Before Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico last September, the island rarely made headlines despite its insurmountable debt and austerity crisis, deep political divisions, 44% poverty rate — oh, and the fact that it’s a modern-day colony (euphemized as “commonwealth” and “unincorporated territory”) of the United States.
Any creative, self-starting, and/or social impact-oriented individual understands how it feels to put all of your energy into one important project or cause, only to realize that not many people seem to be paying attention. Our small team wrapped the film a few weeks ago. At that point, I took a look around and found that while Puerto Ricans continue to face immense trials (exacerbated — but not entirely caused — by the Category 5 hurricane), the rest of society had sort of…moved on.
What sliver of light shed on Puerto Rico’s precarious political status and economic crisis during the immediate aftermath; what small but mighty movement of people speaking out and educating themselves; what anger and disgust over the Trump administration’s handling of the humanitarian atrocity…all seemed to have dissipated. Aside from the occasional update on the death toll and the status of power renewal in remote areas, news publications had largely gone silent. (Shout out to CBS journalist David Begnaud, though, for his tireless reporting to this day).
Puerto Ricans who live on the island are US citizens, but they don’t have the same rights as the rest of us. The biggest discrepancy is that they are not allowed to vote in federal general elections. You read that right. Puerto Rico is controlled and taxed by the United States federal government, yet Puerto Ricans have no say in who is elected President or to Congress. Since the late…