Hugo Muñoz Portrait of Michael, oil on canvas


After a 28-year career as broadcast news editor, I have returned to my passion for making personal films. James, Hugo and Me is my second full-length documentary—a throwback to my days at the Henry Street Settlement Movie Club on New York’s Lower East Side.

In my teens, I attended the workshop and learned the craft of 16mm filmmaking. I had come to this country at age 11 and had experienced difficulty adjusting to the American way of life. It was gratifying to find new friends.

Young Braves and America’s Best are two of the shorts I made at the Movie Club. Looking back, I realize I was developing my own approach to telling stories with a movie camera; I discoverd the importance of building trust with my subjects and creating a shared environment.

Young Braves, a cooperative effort, is an echo from the 60s—energized by a half-dozen preteenagers and me. The film captures the daily life of the boys, who seemed oblivious to the presence of my camera, yet they turned out to be a dynamic gang of playful showoffs.

America’s Best, a later Movie Club production, was my attempt to make some sense out of the lunacy of the Vietnam War. For the first time, I had a chance to work with a synch-sound camera, which allowed me to record the verbal arguments, shouts, cries, and screams of the opposing sides of the cast of characters: an allegory for war.