UNA-GB is proud to announce another of the documentaries to be screened at Global Voices: Immokalee U.S.A.
Immokalee U.S.A. is Georg Koszulinski’s powerful film that examines the migrant underclass in one American town. The documentary focuses on the workers of Immokalee, a small town in Collier Country, Florida. Thousands of migrant workers, many undocumented, converge on Immokalee each year to plant and harvest food that goes on to American tables. These men and women, who live in extremely difficult conditions, work at the mercy of the farm-owners and businessmen who may exploit them.
The film is not meant to highlight the polemic situation of Immokalee in particular, but meant to show the daily experiences of these migrant workers all over our country. The conditions of these workers hardly meet international human rights standards, causing viewers to examine what goes on in their own backyards. One can come away from the film not only saddened by these horrible conditions, but also aware of one’s own decisions and impact on the status of these workers. Immigration issues are always in the media, deciding elections and causing fierce debate. This film, however, takes an objective look at the situation in one town and simply follows these workers and documents their personal stories.
Though not from a far corner of the globe, this documentary holds an important place in Global Voices as examining an issue that challenges our own country as it does many around the world.
For me, the film calls to mind the work of César Chávez and his legacy. It saddens me to think of Chávez watching this film and how disappointed he might be with the conditions for migrant farm workers nearly 50 years after his most powerful activism. I am also reminded of an episode of Al Jazeera’s Inside USA program I caught, titled “Big Agriculture’s Exploitation of Migrant Workers.” Many of the same themes were covered in the short piece, but it was not nearly as powerful as this in-depth documentary. Immokalee USA provides a viewpoint that is not available on the nightly news.
Through meeting these workers, coming to understand their motivation and following their struggles under agribusiness, crew leaders and landlords, their story speaks for itself. No reporter narrates this documentary, but Koszulinski shows us Immokalee as it is, and through its people, challenges us to make informed agricultural and food decisions.
Making ethical produce decisions may be more difficult than choosing canvas bags over plastic, but Immokalee U.S.A. assures us that these decisions matter, and reminds us to look at food as a product of these workers and their labors. Even in our own backyard, their voices are global voices.