“Fruits of Labor” has found a home following its world premiere at SXSW Film Festival. A press release announced that PBS documentary series “POV” scored broadcast rights to Emily Cohen Ibañez’s documentary.
Set to make its international festival premiere at Hot Docs later this month, “Fruits of Labor” tells the story of Ashley Solis, a Mexican-American teenager living in an agricultural town in California. She “dreams of graduating high school and going to college, but when ICE raids in her community threaten to separate her family, Ashley is forced to become the breadwinner of her family, working days in the strawberry fields and the night shift at a food processing company,” the doc’s synopsis details.
“Fruits of Labor” traces “the tensions between family bonds and the systems that work to sever them” and “explores how Ashley navigates her own dreams and aspirations with her obligations to her mother and siblings.” Described as ” a meditation on growing up, the seen and unseen forces that trap families in poverty, and coming into one’s own as a working woman in the wealthiest nation in the world,” the doc “offers a new narrative about women workers that highlights how the global food system intersects with gender and family life.”
When we asked Ibañez what drew her to this story, she said, “I’m a Latinx filmmaker long dedicated to the struggle of farmworkers in the town where Ashley, protagonist and co-writer, lives. After 2016, I noticed an uptick in ICE raids in Ashley’s community and saw a marked increase in United States-born children working in agricultural fields and factories, replacing their undocumented parents. Stories of mixed-status families living under the daily terror of ICE is largely ignored in news media,” she emphasized. “When the news covers current immigration issues, it tends to focus on the geographic location of the U.S.-Mexico border and the detainment of asylum seekers. Less often, we learn about how the border exists in physically distant places but nonetheless terrorized by ICE and the constant threat of family separation.”
The director told us that she hopes those who watch the film “think about what it means to live a dignified life, for working families in this country and transnationally.”
In a statement, Ibañez described the project as “a seed for reflection and revolution” and said she “couldn’t imagine a better broadcast home for ‘Fruits of Labor’ than ‘POV,’ a series that serves national audiences and that is freely available on public television.” She added, “We share a mission to bring artistic cinema with a unique voice that aims to change the world.”
Ibañez earned her doctorate in Anthropology with a certificate in Culture and Media at New York University. Her films have screened at Bogotá’s International Film Festival, the Sante Fe Independent Film Festival, the Roxie Movie Theatre in San Francisco, the Society for Visual Anthropology, and universities internationally.