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Tajima-Peña’s ‘No Más Bebés’ Nominated for Documentary Emmy

Interviewee Maria Hurtado in a scene from “No Más Bebés.”

Los Angeles filmmaker Renee Tajima-Peña is among the nominees for the 38th annual News and Documentary Emmy Awards, which were announced on July 25 by The National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (NATAS).

The News & Documentary Emmy Awards will be presented on Thursday, Oct. 5, at a ceremony at Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Frederick P. Rose Hall in the Time Warner Complex at Columbus Circle in New York City. The event will be attended by more than 1,000 television and news media industry executives, news and documentary producers and journalists. Awards will be presented in 49 categories.

In the Outstanding Historical Documentary category, “No Más Bebés,” which was broadcast as part of the PBS series “Independent Lens,” was one of four films nominated. It was directed and produced by Tajima-Peña with Virginia Espino as producer, Sally Jo Fifer and Lois Vossen as executive producers, and David Eisenberg as supervising producer.

Renee Tajima-Peña (Photo by J.K. YAMAMOTO/Rafu Shimpo)

“No Más Bebés” tells the story of a little-known but landmark event in reproductive justice, when a small group of Mexican immigrant women sued county doctors, the state, and the U.S. government after they were sterilized while giving birth at Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center during the late 1960s and early 1970s. Marginalized and fearful, many of these mothers spoke no English, and charged that they had been coerced into tubal ligation — having their tubes tied — by doctors during the late stages of labor. Often the procedure was performed after asking the mothers under duress.

The mothers’ cause was eventually taken up by a young Chicana lawyer armed with hospital records secretly gathered by a whistle-blowing doctor. In their landmark 1975 civil rights lawsuit, Madrigal v. Quilligan, they argued that a woman’s right to bear a child is guaranteed under the Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade.

The filmmakers spent five years tracking down sterilized mothers and witnesses. Most were reluctant at first to come forward, but ultimately agreed to tell their story. Set against a debate over the impact of Latino immigration and overpopulation, and the birth of a movement for Chicana rights and reproductive choice, “No Más Bebés” revisits a powerful story that still resonates today.

Tajima-Peña is an award-winning filmmaker whose directing credits include “Calavera Highway” (PBS), “The Mexico Story” of “The New Americans” series (PBS), “My Journey Home” (PBS), “Labor Women” (PBS), “Skate Manzanar” (performance and installation), “My America…or Honk if You Love Buddha” (PBS), “The Last Beat Movie” (Sundance Channel), “The Best Hotel on Skid Row” (HBO), and “Who Killed Vincent Chin?” (PBS), which was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary.

Her films have premiered at Sundance, Cannes, San Francisco, New Directors/New Films, Toronto, the Whitney Biennial and festivals around the world. Among her honors are a USA Broad Fellowship, a Peabody Award, a DuPont-Columbia Award, an Alpert Award in the Arts, an IDA Achievement Award, and a Guggenheim Fellowship.

Also nominated in the Outstanding Historical Documentary category:

– “Best of Enemies” (PBS) — directors, Robert Gordon, Morgan Neville; executive producers, Sally Jo Fifer, Julie Goldman, Clif Phillips, Lois Vassen; producers, Robert Gordon, Morgan Neville; supervising producer, Michael Kinomoto; co-producer, Caryn Capotosto.

– “Black America Since MLK: And Still I Rise (PBS) — executive producers, Henry Louis Gates Jr., Peter Kunhardt, Dyllan McGee; executive producers for WETA Dalton Delan, Anne Harrington; executive in charge for PBS, Bill Gardner; senior producer, Rachel Dretzin; series producers, Leslie Asako Gladsjo, Sabin Streeter; supervising producer, Deborah Clancy Porfido; producers, Talleah Bridges McMahon, Leah Williams; line producer, Stef Gordon; directors, Leslie Asako Gladsjo, Talleah Bridges McMachon, Sabin Streeter, Leah Williams; host, Henry Louis Gates Jr.

– “Underfire: The Untold Story of Pfc. Tony Vaccaro” (HBO) — director/producer, Max Lewkowicz; executive producers, Gianna Cerbone-Teoli, Sheila Nevins, Ann Oster, Tim Van Patten; senior producer, Jacqueline Glover; producer, Valerie Thomas.

– “Team Foxcatcher” (Netflix) — director, John Greenhalgh; executive producers, Jeremy Bailer, Ben Hatta, Nancy Schultz; co-executive producers, Jerry Cudzil, Michael Cudzil, Edward McBridge, Rich Tavoso; producers, David Bennett, Jeff Callard, Neil Fazzari

“Many say we’re in a ‘golden age’ of television and I would argue that the incredible growth of quality, in-depth reporting in broadcast journalism and documentary filmmaking has helped drive that change,” said NATAS President Bob Mauro. “We live in a continually connected world where a tweet can set off a firestorm that travels around the world in seconds. These awards are a tribute to the outstanding work being done by these nominees who provide the viewer with thorough, fact-checked reporting, examining the stories of the day from multiple perspectives while never wavering in their quest to provide us with the truth about world events.”

This year’s awards honor programming distributed during the calendar year 2016. The complete list of nominees is available on the National Television Academy’s website:

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