Documenting “Chicago’s Puerto Rican Story” An Interview with New Films Production’s Gloricelly Franceschi Marisol Rodríguez

Marisol Rodríguez

Last month WTTW11 premiered “Chicago’s Puerto Rican Story,” a documentary about the struggles Puerto Ricans faced during their settlement in Chicago. Produced by married couple Antonio and Gloricelly Franceschi, “Chicago’s Puerto Rican Story,” uses interviews and news footage to present a first-of-its-kind chronological story of Chicago Boricuas.

The documentary begins with the Spanish American War of 1898 and the annexation of Puerto Rico as a United States territory and ends in present-day. At one point Antonio and Gloricelly considered centering the film on the 1966 Chicago riots, but decided to broaden the scope in order to include more historical context.

While conducting interviews with numerous Chicago Puerto Ricans for their documentary, Antonio and Gloricelly began to see a common thread connecting the experiences of these individuals—discrimination and poor quality of living.

Gloricelly, who moved to Chicago from Coamo, Puerto Rico in 1982, said she shares an affinity with the experiences of many of the interviewees, especially when they spoke of the trauma of leaving a familiar life in Puerto Rico for a new and strange one in the United States.

Gloricelly and her family settled near Foster and Ashland avenues, in the area known as the Andersonville. Her husband Antonio, who has family roots in Villalba, Puerto Rico, was born in Chicago and raised in the neighborhoods of Bucktown, Wicker Park and Logan Square.

Gloricelly and Antonio currently lives in Cicero with their two children, however Gloricelly said gentrification has kept them from living in the very neighborhoods in which they grew up.

“We have been priced out of a lot of different markets that we would have liked to live in,” Gloricelly said.

Despite balancing parental and film-making responsibilities, Gloricelly said she and Antonio had relatively little difficulties in working on “Chicago’s Puerto Rican Story.”

“We really complement each other,” Gloricelly said. “Where [Antonio’s] weak, I’m strong and where I’m weak [Antonio’s] strong.”

In addition the couple shared a similar mission in their documentary making, which added to their personal relationship. “We have a passion to educate through the medium and I think that’s what makes us closer as a couple,” Gloricelly said.

The first project Antonio and Gloricelly worked on together was a public service announcement on AIDS. In 1998 they collaborated on “Siempre Caliente,” a television show on Latino popular culture.

Now that they have completed “Chicago’s Puerto Rican Story,” the couple is considering future projects.

Gloricelly mentioned a possible venture which stems from an idea the couple has had for many years– a television show called “Latinos on the move.” The program would highlight Latino professionals who are committed to promoting a healthy work environment and being active in their community.

In addition to “Latinos on the move,” Gloricelly said the translation of “Chicago’s Puerto Rican Story” is also in the works.

According to Gloricelly, Daniel Soles, Senior Vice President and Chief Television Content Officer of WTTW, is interested in producing a Spanish-language version of the documentary which would air on WTTW’s Spanish language television network, V-me.

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