Film Review: Fruits of Labour

Ashley at work

Traditionally, one of the most popular jobs for migrants has been working the land. The appeal is obvious. Agricultural work does not usually require verbal or written knowledge of a country’s language. It’s a job which can be largely carried-out in the same, or in a similar, way everywhere. However, the sector has a reputation for paying low wages and not asking too many questions about legal status.

The Southern states of the US rely on cheap labour to bring in the harvest. Despite technological innovations, many crops still need to be picked; manually by hand. It’s back-breaking work which only the most determined, or desperate, can do for a long period of time. Ashley Solis is a second-generation Mexican American and high school senior. However, she has to support her family by working strawberry fields. Fruits of Labour tells her story.

Fruits of Labour documents a young person trying to balance the competing pressures of work and schooling. It’s a modern-day tale of living in America. While Ashley wants to improve her situation, get an education and a make a brighter future for herself, she struggles to juggle both work and school. Emily Cohen Ibáñez’s feature debut explores the conundrums faced by many. Although Fruits of Labour is probably a little too loose for its own good, this approach affords us a greater understanding of her perspective on life.

Fruits of Labour premieres on PBS’s POV on 4 October.

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