World Premiere & PBS Broadcast of The Borinqueneers
CROMPOND, N.Y. -- The experience of Latinos in the U.S. Army has rarely been portrayed in film. Now comes The Borinqueneers (pronounced Boh-rin-keh-neers), the never-before-told story of the 65th Puerto Rican Regiment, the only all-Hispanic unit in the history of the U.S. Army. Narrated by Hector Elizondo (Chicago Hope, Pretty Woman), this compelling 78-minute documentary relies on interviews with the regiment's veterans and rare archival footage to trace the unique experience of the 65th, culminating in the Korean War and the dramatic events that would threaten its very existence. The world premiere screening will take place on July 13th at the Newark Museum in Newark, NJ, with other screenings scheduled in various other cities. PBS stations nationwide will begin broadcasting a one-hour version of the program in August (check local listings).
Named after "Borinquen," the word given to Puerto Rico by its original inhabitants, the Taino Indians, the Borinqueneers formed a tight-knit unit bound by a common language and a strong cultural identity. First-time director and producer Noemí Figueroa Soulet spent eight years researching the story and locating veterans of the regiment, some of whom have since passed away. Through their voices, the documentary explores the unique history of the 65th Regiment and illustrates many of the issues surrounding the U.S. relationship with Puerto Rico and the broader Latino experience. "Puerto Ricans occupy a very special place in the history of the U.S. Army," says Figueroa Soulet. "As a former colony and now a commonwealth, we don't have the right to vote in U.S. elections, and yet we serve in the military and we can be drafted."
In 1950, the men of the 65th finally had the opportunity to prove their mettle in the Korean War. In spite of the prejudice that was still the norm in the Army, they performed impressively during the first years of the war, even earning kudos from General MacArthur. "I was glad that the Puerto Ricans were on my side," says Colonel Willis Cronkhite, a 65th company commander.
But as the Korean War bogged down into a stalemate, the regiment felt the full weight of the new "hold at all costs" strategy, losing many of its men in impossible missions. In October of 1952, several companies were sent to defend a barren outpost against overwhelming enemy fire. Following a massive mortar barrage, several dozen men abandoned their positions. Wrapped in mystery and controversy to this day, the real story of what happened has never been told until now.
More than ninety Puerto Rican soldiers were tried in one of the largest courts-martial of the Korean War. The Borinqueneers uncovers the circumstances surrounding the dramatic events of 1952 and explores the rich history of the 65th Puerto Rican Regiment
Written and produced by Noemi Figueroa Soulet, and distributed by El Pozo Productions, this feature-length documentary film will have its worldwide DVD release on August 15th.
For More Information Contact:
Noemi Figueroa Soulet
Tel/Fax: (914) 739-3989