In person: New York Times Houston bureau chief Manny Fernandez, plus filmmakers Isabel Castro (Darlin); and Jeff Reichert & Farihah Zaman (To Be Queen)

Produced by Concordia Studio, Op-Docs is the New York Times Opinion section’s series of award-winning short documentaries. In this special Houston presentation, see topics including the heartbreak ICE detainees; the hope found on a dance floor; and the optimism in a contest for girls in “the toughest town in Texas.”

El Vacío
 (Directed by Deborah S. Esquenazi, 13 min.) In a confessional built from home video and animation, Karla Cornejo Villavicencio explores the mental prisons and personal trauma created by immigration policy.

To Be Queen (Directed by Jeff Reichert & Farihah Zaman, 15 min.) In Luling, the “toughest town in Texas,” two Latina high school girls compete to be the next Watermelon Thump Queen.

La Boca del Lobo (Directed by Jesse Moss, 14 min.) Mario Guevara, a reporter for Mundo Hispanico, investigates the impact of ICE arrests on his Atlanta community.

Darlin (Directed by Isabel Castro, 15 min.) Members of a Honduran family are separated under the zero-tolerance policy.

Walk Run Cha-Cha (Directed by Laura Nix, 20 min.) Paul and Millie Cao, who lost their youth to the aftermath of the Vietnam War, have become successful professionals in Southern California—and are rediscovering themselves on the dance floor.

About the Speakers
• Manny Fernandez, named Houston bureau chief in 2011, joined the New York Times as a metro reporter in 2005, covering the Bronx and housing. He was on a team of reporters whose coverage of a fire in the Bronx that killed 10 people from West Africa in 2007 was named a Pulitzer Prize finalist for breaking news. Before joining the Times, Fernandez was a general-assignments reporter for the Washington Post. He graduated from California State University, Fresno, in 1997 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. 

• Isabel Castro is an Emmy-nominated, award-winning Mexican American documentary filmmaker and multimedia journalist. Her directorial debut, Crossing Over, about transgender asylum seekers, was broadcast by Univision and Participant Media and won a 2015 GLAAD Media Award for best documentary film. She worked on HBO’s Vice and helped launch Vice News Tonight covering civil rights and policy. Darlin premiered at the 2019 Tribeca Film Festival. Castro recently worked as a director on a Netflix series and is in post-production on a documentary about the criminalization of humanitarian aid in Arizona.

• Jeff Reichert is a filmmaker, critic, and distributor who lives in Brooklyn. His award-winning films include Gerrymandering (Tribeca 2010), Remote Area Medical (Full Frame 2013), This Time Next Year (Tribeca 2014) and the short Kombit (Sundance 2014). He produced Steven Bognar and Julia Reichert's American Factory (Sundance 2019). He is the co-founder and co-editor-in-chief of the NEA-sponsored online film journal Reverse Shot, which is the in-house publication of Museum of the Moving Image; and he has written for Film Comment, Filmmaker Magazine, Huffington Post, and IndieWire.

• Farihah Zaman is a Brooklyn-based filmmaker, critic, and curator whose work has screened at Sundance, New York Film Festival, Toronto International Film Festival, Tribeca, LA Film Festival, AFI Docs, Camden, and Full Frame. Her first feature is the award-winning documentary Remote Area Medical, followed by This Time Next Year (Tribeca 2014), and several shorts (Kombit, Nobody Loves Me, American Carnage). She has written for Film Comment, Reverse Shot, Elle, Huffington Post, Filmmaker, and AV Club and has worked for Magnolia Pictures, IFP, Flaherty Seminar, and Field of Vision.

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Running Time
79 minutes
Digital, Color