Deerfield Teacher Making Documentary on Life in Puerto Vallarta

Steve Sadin - Chicago Tribune
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August 1, 2017


Filmmakers Sebastian Alvarez Hernandez (left) and Brett Schwartz take a break from filming in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. (Courtesy of Ana Carina Cibrian)

Pedro is a 19-year-old server in a Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, hotel restaurant who is about to enter college. He hopes to purchase a car for his family with his earnings.

Pedro's story is one of several captured by Deerfield High School teacher and Highland Park resident Brett Schwartz in his documentary film about people's lives captured during a 10-day stay in Puerto Vallarta.

An award-winning filmmaker who teaches video and film production at Deerfield, Schwartz said his latest effort was commissioned by the Highland Park Sister Cities Foundation to help tell people more about Puerto Vallarta, one of Highland Park's three sister cities, beyond its status as a tourist destination.

"We want to tell a story about the people," Schwartz said. "We wanted to show the different layers of society. Everybody is aware of the five-star hotels but it's very different from what you see four miles away."

Meeting Pedro through a manager of one of the hotels, Schwartz and Mexican filmmaker Sebastian Alvarez Hernandez captured images of his work at the hotel and then followed him home where he lives with his parents and siblings. Schwartz said he teamed with Hernandez for the effort.

"We wanted to show authentic family life to an American audience," Schwartz said. "They welcomed us into their home. We showed them as a family. His dream is to buy a car for his family."

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