Andrew Gersh

Documentary Editor for the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond
The Work

Not In Our Town: Light in the Darkness

Not In Our Town: Light in the Darkness is a one-hour documentary about a town coming together to take action after anti-immigrant violence devastates the community. In 2008, a series of attacks against Latino residents of Patchogue, New York culminate with the murder of Marcelo Lucero, an Ecuadorian immigrant who had lived in the Long Island village for 13 years.

Over a two-year period, the story follows Mayor Paul Pontieri, the victim’s brother, Joselo Lucero, and Patchogue residents as they openly address the underlying causes of the violence, work to heal divisions, and begin taking steps to ensure everyone in their village will be safe and respected.

Directed by Patrice O’Neill of The Working Group.  Watch the entire film at PBS.org.

In an Ideal World

An intimate and stirring portrait of three men on the front-lines of power and race in America, IN AN IDEAL WORLD goes deep inside a California prison to explore — and honor — the human drama at the core of America’s locked down racial order.

Shot over seven years with unlimited access, IN AN IDEAL WORLD is an immersive story told firsthand, without outside experts or narration. A white warden at ease with authority, a separatist mafioso and a black gangbanger – all three men come from different worlds. Yet all have spent their entire adult lives in prison, sharing a culture of race and power that has, in just that time, institutionalized the American racial landscape in ways that we are only beginning to understand, and that may prove very difficult to undo. Each came into the system very young, learned the convict/cop “codes” from their groups, and over three decades gained power and influence in prison. At the same time, crime control in the U.S. came to rely almost exclusively on locking people up, increasingly and disproportionately people of color.  John, Sam and the warden learned how to navigate prison’s complex, violent and deeply entrenched, racially divided culture, but now find themselves on the cusp of potentially radical change.

Produced and Directed by Noel Schwerin for Backbone Media. Read more here.

Generation Z: Child Soldiers of the Zetas

Generation Z: Child Soldiers of the Zetas investigates a terrifying aspect of the drug wars that have raged along the US-Mexico border: the recruitment of child soldiers by the Zetas, the notoriously violent gang of ex-military commandos. For more than a decade, drug cartels have been battling for control of smuggling routes along the border. The violence has devastated nearby towns and claimed the lives of some 60,000 people. The Zetas seized control of one of the key cities in the region, Nuevo Laredo, and dominate the highly lucrative smuggling route across the Rio Grande into Laredo, Texas. To sustain their power, the Zetas have turned increasingly to the recruitment of adolescents – on both sides of the border – to serve as lookouts, extortionists, drug mules and killers. Generation Z explores the rise of the Zetas and their leader, Miguel Treviño, who aggressively pursued the strategy of recruiting child soldiers.

Generation Z is featured in “REVEAL,” a new, four-part series for public television presented by Oregon Public Broadcasting. It received the Grand Jury Award For Best Short Documentary at the 17th United Nations Association Film Festival (UNAFF).

Generation Z: Child Soldiers of the Zetas was produced and directed by Josiah Hooper for The Center for Investigative Reporting.

The Delano Manongs

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While the California farm labor movement’s biggest names are Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta, few know the crucial role that organizer Larry Itliong and a group of Filipino farm workers played in the establishment of that famous movement.

Itliong’s Agricultural Workers Organizing Committee instigated one of the American farm labor movement’s most defining moments, the Delano Grape Strike of 1965. Itliong — a five foot five, cigar-chomping union veteran — organized 1,500 Filipino laborers to strike against the grape growers of Delano, California for the federal minimum wage. They fought alone until Itliong persuaded Cesar Chavez and his group of Latino farmworkers to join the strike.

What happened after that made civil rights history: the two groups merged together to created the United Farm Workers Union (UFW), with Cesar Chavez as director and Larry Itliong as assistant director. Yet Larry’s story and the story of the Filipinos and their union organizing efforts that began in the 1920s in the US have virtually been forgotten.

Andrew Gersh co-wrote and edited a first cut of the film and a fundraising sampler/trailer which was awarded funding through the Independent Television Service (ITVS). Produced by Niall McKay. Directed by Marissa Aroy. Read more at the official site.

ABC NEWS/PBS NOVA: COMA

Neurosurgeon Dr. Jam Ghajar has a controversial technique he says is key to survival in the first week after major head trauma – but dangerously missing from standard procedure at some 70 percent of hospitals across the country. A co-production of WGBH/Nova and ABC News/PrimeTime Live. Produced by Linda Garmon.

RUMI: Poet of the Heart

Why does the 13th century Persian mystic Jelaluddin Rumi remain the bestselling poet in America? Featuring poetry and conversation with preeminent Rumi translator Coleman Barks, poet Robert Bly, Deepak Chopra, storyteller Michael Meade, mythologist Huston Smith and others. Musical performances by Grammy nominated artists Hamza El Din and Jai Uttal. Narrated by Academy award nominee Debra Winger. Directed by Haydn Reiss.

JACKIN’ THE BALL: Ron Carter

A feature-length documentary and proposed television series exploring the creative process and collaboration between musicians of different generations, backgrounds and musical styles. Featured musicians include Ron Carter, Steve Turre, Broun Fellinis, Tom Ze, Tortoise, Isotope 217, Pharoah Sanders and John Faddis. Directed by Michael Jordan.

FRONTLINE: BLACKOUT

Power shortages. Rolling blackouts. Skyrocketing utility bills. California’s 2000-2001 power disaster made “energy” a national front-burner issue. In Blackout,” FRONTLINE and The New York Times join forces to investigate the story behind the California energy crisis. Correspondent Lowell Bergman goes head to head with energy industry CEOs and state and federal officials to uncover what’s at the heart of the growing energy crisis, and who’s profiting.

A co-production of FRONTLINE and The New York Times.  Produced and directed by Michael Chandler.

THE NEW HEROES: Albina Ruiz

The New Heroes tells the dramatic stories of fourteen daring social entrepreneurs who are undaunted by the chronic challenges of poverty, illness, unemployment, violence, and ignorance they see in the world around them. These individuals have a revolutionary passion for identifying and solving large-scale social problems. Unlike traditional business entrepreneurs, their mission is to generate social value, not wealth. For social entrepreneurs, the bottom line is measured in lives. Hosted by Robert Redford, this four-part series aired nationally on PBS in the summer of 2005.

Andrew Gersh edited four segments of the series for Actual Films. This segment produced and photographed by Jon Shenk.