Burns to boost Latino presence in war series
WASHINGTON -- PBS has hired a Hispanic documentarian to assist filmmaker Ken Burns with his upcoming World War II series, which had drawn complaints for failing to include the contributions of Hispanics.
Hector Galan, a film and television producer from Austin, Texas, will be brought in to assist Burns with the 14-hour series, which has already been produced and is scheduled for release in September.
Burns and PBS President Paula Kerger announced Galan's hiring during a private meeting at a Washington hotel yesterday with members of various Hispanic groups, members of Congress , and other public television officials. Galan also attended the meeting.
Darting into an elevator afterward, Burns said: "I feel like we listened, had a fair exchange , and are moving to a win-win, positive solution to the problem."
"It's fantastic," said Galan, who produced the 1996 series "Chicano! History of The Mexican American Civil Rights Movement" for PBS.
Galan said he viewed the series over the weekend. There were images of Hispanics, he said, but no discussion of their role in the war or how the war affected their place in American society.
Hispanic groups protested that oversight, and asked that the film and educational materials be redone to add the stories of Hispanic veterans. PBS agreed to some of the requests last week.
About half a million Hispanics are believed to have fought in the war and 15 were Medal of Honor winners.
Burns' s series, made over six years, tells the story of the war through people from four communities -- Waterbury, Conn.; Mobile, Ala.; Sacramento, Calif.; and Luverne, Minn. The film's co-producer is Lynn Novick.
Galan said he is putting aside work on another film on Latin rhythms to work with Burns. He described himself as a World War II buff whose father served in the war as a member of the Army Corps of Engineers.