producer | director | camera

The Hidden Vote

The Hidden Vote is a short-form documentary series that I co-created with Ben Rekhi, commissioned and funded by the Independent Television Service for PBS Independent Lens. The series looks at electoral politics in minority communities ahead of the 2018 midterm elections. We are also editing a long-form documentary based on this series.

Here’s a series synopsis:

As Americans head to the polls at the midpoint of Donald Trump’s presidency, the nations finds itself in new terrain. The coalition of voters that elected Trump in 2016 have realigned American politics, upending long-held beliefs about voting habits. The Hidden Vote profiles a segment of the Trump coalition that has received little attention so far: supporters from minority groups who have sometimes been subject to the President’s harsh rhetoric and policies. So what is it about Trump’s presidency that appeals to these minority voters? To find out, The Hidden Vote profiles minority voters and candidates in five communities across the country, taking into account how socio-economic factors, race, and cultural backgrounds shape personal beliefs and values. These profiles try to show a nuanced and complex understanding of the modern American electorate and the impact they may have on future elections.

Episode 01: Dearborn, Michigan, with the largest Muslim population in America, has a hotly contested city council race in full swing. One candidate, Rifaat Mike Hacham, is a Muslim American conservative who was inspired to get into politics by the president’s unlikely win. Another, Nada al-Hanooti, is a progressive Democrat who was so appalled by the state of things that she, too, decided to run. Will either make it past the primaries?

I directed and shot this episode, which premiered on PBS Independent Lens May 21, 2018, and screened at the AFI/Meet The Press Film Festival in Washington DC, October 8, 2018.

Episode 02: In New Mexico, a debate divides Navajos: the environment or jobs? Coal may be a shrinking industry but it employs many native workers. Follow along as Republican State Rep. and Navajo Nation member Sharon Clahchischilliage heads to Santa Fe to face off with energy companies and environmentalists during a tense public hearing on the impending closure of a coal plant in her district.

I co-produced this episode.

Episode 03: In Orange County, California’s Little Saigon (home to the largest population of Vietnamese Americans in the US), Phat Bui, a life-long Republican whose family fled Vietnam after the fall of Saigon in 1975, faces a difficult decision. Will he support a fellow Republican, whom he doesn’t trust, or, for the first time ever, support a Democrat he thinks is a better candidate?

I produced, directed, shot and edited this episode.

Episode 04: Meet Vincent, who grew up a Democrat in North Carolina, but is now a conservative, pro-gun activist who thinks gays should take up arms after the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando. Meet Mitchell, who grew up conservative but is now a progressive voter who doesn’t think the solution is more guns. They also happen to be dating.

I was the director of photography for this episode.

Episode 05: In the small town of Collins, Mississippi, Shalonda Thompson, an undecided young African American voter, is torn between voting in line with her Democrat family, and the increasing influence of the staunchly Republican white family she works for. Shalonda respects both sides, but when it comes to election day, how will she ultimately vote?

I produced and shot this episode.