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In his interview, the Cuban-born politician recalled an incident early in his career as mayor of Union City, N.J., when he spoke Spanish at a city council meeting to a woman struggling with English.

When members of the audience complained, Menendez adjourned the meeting and brought the entire room to the city archives to see official ledgers from before the city’s official 1925 incorporation. They were handwritten in German, the language of the area’s large immigrant community at that time.

Hinojosa said the experience was particularly powerful because the filming coincided with the passage of Arizona’s tough immigration laws, although the current political debate over immigration is barely touched upon in the film.

That will likely generate controversy. And while Mexican-Americans make up nearly two-thirds of U.S. Hispanics, the film features a rough balance of Mexican-Americans, Cuban-Americans and Puerto Ricans. Ferrera, whose family is Honduran, is the sole representative of Latinos of Central American heritage. Colombian native John Leguizamo is the only South American.

Greenfield-Sanders is aware of the potential criticism but makes no apologies.

He worked with Ingrid Duran, the former CEO of the Congressional Hispanic Institute, to reach an array of political and cultural leaders. He says narrowing the list proved even more challenging than “The Black List.”

“Like `The Black List,’ we had to choose a kind of a balance of men and women, and a balance of professions, and then with `The Latino List’ we had to find a balance of nationalities, too,” he said.

He hopes the film will spawn sequels.

Added Greenfield-Sanders: “There are thousands of people who deserve to be in the film.”

(This version CORRECTS to Sofia Vergara from Sophia Vargas. )