The documentary, Campesinos: America’s Unsung Heroes is a moving and vivid first-hand look at the struggles farm workers face on both a local and national level. It was filmed at several farms near Silicon Valley and shows how the gritty reality of farm workers is similar everywhere. No stone is left unturned as it makes sure to give insight into the life of farm workers, who are often forgotten by the American Mainstream. Director Joe Poni and Producer Alex Ontiveros (Silicon Valley Latino), and Salvador Chavez are delighted with the enthusiastic reception that the documentary has received in film festivals and from audiences that have viewed it in private screenings. It has won 7 awards- including a Telly Award. Time and time again, this documentary has proven to be eye-opening and a heartfelt tribute to the lives of agricultural workers everywhere.
The life of a farmworker is a rough life. Many risk it all to arrive in this nation. They have little contact with their families back in their country of origin. They work using only the bare minimum to support their families. The work they do doesn’t provide them with welfare or pandemic pay, yet it serves as their only source of income. If a farm worker doesn’t work, they don’t eat. Campesinos makes it clear that farm workers deal with many issues while living under the American Shadow. To make matters worse, there is a stigma that farm workers are seen as criminals and as other negative caricatures that aren’t true to the reality of farm workers. Farm workers in California produce two-thirds of the nation's fruits and nuts and over 90% of national production, a point further elaborated on within the documentary. Agricultural workers aren’t recognized or respected for their back-breaking labor. Some are even disrespected and even seen as less of what they are.
To make matters worse, the lives of agricultural workers which was made exponentially worse during the pandemic as the few resources available became even more scarce. The documentary shows how these farm workers received little PPE and other health supplies during the pandemic. Many workers had to find their own masks and supplies. Indeed, while many Americans stayed at home during quarantine many farm workers risked their health and well-being to ensure that the nation would have enough fresh produce. The fields are the only source of income for these workers, staying at home would mean that their families wouldn’t have enough to survive- a point often overlooked along with the efforts of these agricultural workers.
Campesinos provides context on the issues of affordable housing, income inequality, racial tension, and lack of resources to name a few. The documentary brilliantly shines a light on the irony that many agricultural workers in Silicon Valley face. While the average poverty level for a family of 4 in the area is $100,000, the poverty level for a Latino family of 2 is $30,000. While people living in the heart of Silicon Valley make millions of dollars, farm worker families are left barely able to survive with what little they earn. There are few resources meant to help the farm workers thus making housing affordability that much harder for these humble laborers.
From the very beginning, this project was meant to be a tribute film to our farm workers. SVL endeavored to produce this doc before the pandemic but once the pandemic started, this motivated the SVL team even more to tell the story of these farm workers. Over the last few months, and especially now during Hispanic Heritage Month, SVL has been asked to do screening by different organizations and corporations ERG’s. The SVL Agency team has decided to request sponsorship screenings and all contributions will be donated to the ALAS farmworker program.
We invite you to read a couple of testimonials and watch the latest trailer below. Be on the lookout for upcoming private screenings.
"Campesinos is an inspiring and heartfelt documentary with amazing cinematography! This film helps us to appreciate our fieldworkers that work hard so that we can have fresh fruits and vegetables on our table. Everyone should see this film."
Poppy Jasper International Film Festival, Director
"What a way to kick off Hispanic Heritage Month!! Bill.com had a screening of Campesinos America’s Unsung Heroes. Such an amazing documentary of California’s essential farmworkers, what they endured during the pandemic and how they continue to struggle to keep our state and country fed. Their pride and commitment to our safety and well-being is so immense. As they said in the documentary, “they are the doctors and scientists of our land and farms.”.
Vice President & Deputy CIO at Bill.com
Author: Ryan Lopez
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