A Festival like this offers a sustained, concentrated exposure to the sheer emotional power of documentary filmmaking, its ability to communicate the drama embedded in human experience. In Durham last weekend, you could walk into the stately dark of the Carolina Theatre and lose yourself in real life.—A.O. Scott of The New York Times
The Full Frame Documentary Film Festival in Durham, North Carolina last week was a showcase of some of the top documentary films of the past year and Shine Global is very proud to have participated with THE HARVEST/LA COSECHA. The program focused heavily on themes of injustice, poverty, and struggle and in this, Shine’s latest film was no exception.
Over the course of 2 years, Director U. Roberto Romano filmed 3 migrant farmworker children and their families as they journeyed back and forth across the country searching for backbreaking work in the fields in order to scrape together enough money to survive. It is shockingly still legal in the US for children to work in the fields starting at age 12 with almost no restrictions. Even younger children can work in agriculture as long as their parents accompany them. This is illegal in all other industries in the US, but agriculture has been excepted since the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938. Attempts at reform, such as Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard’s CARE Act, have so far failed to gather enough support to change this. The filmmakers’ hope is that THE HARVEST/LA COSEHCA will not only educate audiences about the issue but also spur them to demand reform. “In this country we have legalized an early end to childhood” says Romano, “It will only be by changing the law that we can end this. Then and only then will these children have a true opportunity to maximize our education system and realize the American dream.”
THE HARVEST/LA COSECHA showed with the short 13 minute film “Everyone’s Nuts” by Fabian Euresti, a son of a Latino farmworker. His family lives in a house owned by their employer in the San Joaquin Valley of California near hundreds of oil wells. And their drinking water is poisoned. Everybody’s Nuts is an essay and a portrait film that, according to the filmmaker, “explores the choice of two individuals whose economic circumstances helped determine where they would live.” The two films complemented each other in telling different stories of US farmworkers’ hard life and the difficult choices they must make due to their poverty: live with poisoned drinking water or have your children work in the fields to help support the family.
The thematic programming of the 2011 Full Frame Film Festival focused on archival footage and its place in documentary filmmaking and society at large. The 10 featured films, curated by archivist, writer, lecturer and filmmaker Rick Prelinger, explored a cross-section of archival footage and its use that contextualized the dialogue surrounding the films in competition. One of the films showed extensive footage of poverty during the Great Depression providing a striking similarity to the contemporary footage in THE HARVEST/LA COSECHA and revealing how little has changed for some sectors of society in the last 5 decades. Shine Global’s first film, WAR/DANCE, is included in the Full Frame Film Archives and the aim is that 40 years from now, when people view the archival footage of WAR/DANCE and of THE HARVEST/LA COSECHA, that there will be no contemporary comparisons to be made.