Documentary by Faculty, Alumni and Class of ’20 Students Named duPont-Columbia Awards Finalist

November 9, 2021

“COVID’s Hidden Toll,” written, directed, and produced by 2004 graduates Daffodil Altan, a Berkeley Journalism lecturer and FRONTLINE producer and correspondent, and documentary filmmaker and Professor Andrés Cediel has been named a finalist for the 2022 duPont-Columbia Awards.

The documentary, co-produced by María José Calderón (’09), examined how the absence of workplace protections for essential agricultural workers fueled COVID infections among a vulnerable workforce as cases among Latinos and African Americans were surging across the U.S.

Brandon Yadegari, Lulu Orozco, Nick Roberts, Rosa Tuirán, Jess Alvarenga, and Pedro Cota were associate producers, with Molly Forster contributing additional research. Zachary Stauffer (’08) contributed additional camera work.

The students from the Class of 2020 did everything from pre-interviews to writing memos, sanitizing gear to running food, transcription to translation to digging through archives.

“It was relentless for three months, doing work at all hours of the day, and very frightening at times with the pandemic going on, especially going into the field,” Nick Roberts (’20) said. “But we were able to get it done, and no one got sick, which is an amazing accomplishment. I’m extremely proud of the piece of work we produced. It’s a vital document for this time.”

“Everyone really showed up and did an extraordinary job,” Altan said of their “six-headed associate producer.”

The Class of 2020’s involvement grew out of Berkeley Journalism’s “Chronicling COVID-19” project, which started in the spring and turned the School into a newsroom for covering the coronavirus for a variety of publications, including The New York Times. Even while reporting for the Times, some of Prof. Cediel’s students began researching for the documentary, and FRONTLINE hired a group of them as associate producers.

The winners will be announced at a virtual ceremony in February 2022.

Read our July 2020 write-up on the project here.

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