Puerto Rico was devastated by Hurricane Maria. In the months since the storm the small island has struggled to rebuild, but the determination and resolve of the people endures. When filmmaker Andy To saw what was happening in the aftermath of Maria, he didn’t just see an opportunity to make a film, he felt a responsibility to show the resilience of the people.
Andy To wasn't raised in a fairy-tale environment. He grew up in a rough part of Oakland, California where robberies and violence were common occurrences. That experience created the foundation for everything he does and it was particularly important when he went to Puerto Rico. “For me to be able to experience and witness the power of resiliency, the power of the unwillingness to give up, especially under these really harsh circumstances, it really opened my eyes to hope,” he explains. “On a personal level, I was able to connect with that, because as a kid growing up in Oakland, I had gone through times when I lost everything. So there was a personal connection for me to just want to document that struggle. To want to document the rebuilding process, because I personally had to go through that, myself.”
He continues, “What I learned about myself through filmmaking is that, I want to be able to use my skills and the things that I've learned in these past few years in the film and photo industries, to be able to help people. If I'm able to utilize my skills to help a family, or to be able to help people who have been affected by a country-wide crisis, then at the end of the day, that's what helps me go to sleep at night; knowing that the things that I've learned from the mentors that I've had, and the hours I've put into my craft have been toward a meaningful cause.”