“The challenge that drives me as a filmmaker is to capture and convey real events and people, and to recreate and present their stories in an artistic and emotionally impactful manner.”

Juan Freitez is a recipient of a 2016 Artist Research & Development Grant.

Artist Research and Development Grants are designed to support the advancement of artistic research, aid in the development of artistic work and recognize the contributions individual artists make to Arizona’s communities. For more information about the Artist Research & Development Grant, click here.

In his first feature-length documentary, Salud Sin Papeles: Health Undocumented, filmmaker Juan Freitez will tell the story of Phoenix Allies for Community Health, a clinic providing free healthcare to undocumented immigrants in Phoenix.

While volunteering as an interpreter at the clinic, Freitez came to know the day-to-day operations and forged friendships with the founders, volunteers, and patients. This connection affords him intimate access to the story and its main characters.

Working in the tradition of cinema verité, Freitez will employ hand-held cameras fitted with shoulder-mount stabilizers and noise cancelling microphones to capture spontaneous dialogue in unpredictable settings in addition to sit-down interviews that form the backbone of the story’s narrative.

“This project is an important step in my growth and development as an artist. It will be similar to creating documentary shorts, but on a much larger scale and in more detail, fitting together smaller stories and themes to create a bigger picture,” Freitez wrote in his grant application.

Freitez has recruited multi-media journalist Lupita (Pita) Juarez as his primary collaborator on the documentary.

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. After moving to Phoenix, Freitez began working with Terry Bennell, an award-winning filmmaker, editor, and director. Bennell became his most influential mentor, helping him to hone his story-telling skills through detail-oriented editing.

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.

“Drag for a Dream,” a short documentary by Freitez and frequent collaborator Pita Juarez, was recently featured on PRI’s The World with Marco Werman