89.1 WEMU

creative:impact - A Journey Around The World Through A Documentary

May 7, 2019

Juan D. Freitez
Credit Juan D. Freitez / Facebook

Meet the Eastern Michigan University graduate, Ann Arbor resident, and Venezuelan immigrant who has produced a documentary making waves around the world.  Juan D. Freitez's “Salud Sin Papeles: Health Undocumented” will be playing at the upcoming Cinetopia Film Festival.  On "creative:impact," Juan will take you on his journey in a conversation with WEMU’s David Fair and the president and CEO of The Arts Alliance, Deb Polich.


Deb Polich, President and CEO of the Arts Alliance

Creative industries in Washtenaw County add hundreds of millions of dollars to the local economy.  In the weeks and months to come, 89.1 WEMU's David Fair and co-host Deb Polich, the President and CEO of The Arts Alliance, explore the myriad of contributors that make up the creative sector in Washtenaw County.

About Juan D. Freitez

Juan Freitez credits his desire to explore and understand the world and its people for his decision to pursue documentary filmmaking.

Freitez’s interest in the field was piqued when he worked as a production assistant in Barquisimeto, Venezuela.  In 2000, he moved to the United States to further his studies and find new opportunities.  He received an associate degree in Digital Video/Film Production before continuing on to pursue a degree in Electronic Media and Film from Eastern Michigan University.

In 2014, Freitez founded Community Grassroots Media, an independent production group focused on producing documentary shorts highlighting social and political issues in his community.  Freitez’s ultimate goal is to use visual storytelling to create a deeper understanding and appreciation for issues and ideas, and the ability to effect change in the community fuels his passion for this work.

Juan Freitez is a recipient of a 2016 Artist Research & Development Grant from the Arizona Commision of the Arts which he used to create his debut feature length documentary, "Salud Sin Papeles : Health Undocumented."

Salud Sin Papeles: Health Undocumented

Salud Sin Papeles : Health Undocumented
Credit Salud Sin Papeles : Health Undocumented / Facebook

Sparked by backlash to a neo-Nazi rally and a stream of strict anti-immigrant laws passing in Arizona, a group of activists organize to build Phoenix Allies for Community Health, a unique free clinic serving undocumented immigrants.  The film follows their journey, delves into the heart and history of the clinic, and chronicles the poignant stories of undocumented patients as well as their courage and resilience.  HEALTH UNDOCUMENTED captures the inspirational birth of a local grassroots movement, full of beautiful human portraits including those of doctors, nurses, and activists who would stop at nothing to make a difference.

Juan Freitez Official Bio

Juan Freitez is a Venezuelan filmmaker and video journalist debuting his first feature length documentary, HEALTH UNDOCUMENTED.  Human rights and immigration are recurring topics in his work.  His documentary shorts have been featured by National Public Radio (NPR), Public Radio International’s The World, NBC News, The National Journal, and The Huffington Post.  Freitez founded Community Grassroots Media, which has produced documentary shorts highlighting myriad social and political issues in underrepresented communities.  An immigrant himself, Freitez fundamentally understands the difficulties and discrimination facing immigrants.  His work on his first feature-length documentary HEALTH UNDOCUMENTED awarded him several grants including the highly competitive Artist Research and Development Grant from The Arizona Commission on the Arts and The National Endowment for the Arts in 2016.  Freitez’s film has screened at international film festivals including the Global Peace Film Festival 2018, the Freedom Film Festival 2018 (Malaysia & Singapore), the International Human Rights Film Festival of Valencia 2019 (Spain), and the San Diego Latino Film Festival 2019 for which the film was translated into multiple languages, including Spanish and Malay.

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— David Fair is the WEMU News Director and host of Morning Edition on WEMU.  You can contact David at 734.487.3363, on twitter @DavidFairWEMU, or email him at dfair@emich.edu