Hugo Ortega crossed over the Mexican border and arrived in Houston, Texas, without documents and without knowing any English. Over the next few years, he would become a citizen through President Reagan’s amnesty program and go from washing dishes to owning multiple restaurants. Now, he and his wife, Tracy Vaught—whom he met while working as a dishwasher in her restaurant in the 80’s—are the “reigning powerhouse couple of Houston’s competitive restaurant scene.” In this documentary produced by Katherine Wells for The Atlantic‘s American Dreams series, Ortega reflects on his journey within the industry. “I have a great responsibility to represent the Mexican cuisine in a proper way,” he says. “It’s a magnificent cuisine.”

Wilbur Force used to be the king of New Zealand professional wrestling—in shape and a veritable champion in the arena. In this touching and quite funny short film, director J.Ollie Lucks explores his friend’s fall from former glory as Wilbur Force stopped booking matches. “It’s not something I want to wave the flag of: Hey, I’m a failure,” Force says. “You kind of lose a little bit of hope, I guess.”

The Loading Docs initiative supports 10 filmmaking teams to create three-minute, creative documentaries that tell New Zealand stories. This year’s theme is connection. 

There are more than 6,000 men currently imprisoned at the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola—three-quarters of them are there for life, and nearly 80 percent are African American. As Jeffrey Goldberg reports in “A Matter of Black Lives,” in The Atlantic‘s September issue, Angola is the end of the line for many convicted criminals in Louisiana, which has the highest incarceration rate of any state in the U.S. In a forthcoming documentary from The Atlantic, we go inside Angola to speak with inmates serving life sentences and with warden Burl Cain, who has managed the prison for two decades.

Read more