7.6/10
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12 user 8 critic

Farmingville (2004)

Documentary on the attempted murder of two Mexican day laborers in Farmingville, New York.

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8 wins & 2 nominations. See more awards »

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The hate-based attempted murder of two Mexican day laborers catapults the Long Island town of Farmingville into national headlines, unmasking a new frontline of the border wars -- suburbia. Blending the stories of town residents and day laborers, Farmingville reveals the human impact of mismanaged national policies that lead to fear, racism and violence. Written by Anonymous

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Welcome to the suburbs, home of the new border wars.

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PBS [United States]

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18 January 2004 (USA)  »

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Compelling, yet sad, commentary about society
23 June 2004 | by See all my reviews

A powerful documentary about the sudden influx of undocumented - or illegal, if you prefer - Mexican immigrants into Farmingville, N.Y., not too far from New York City.

Anti-immigration folks are bound to see this film as propaganda about immigrants, especially since the immigrants come off as well-behaved, respectful, occasionally funny, individuals, while their opponents do not.

Filmmakers Carlos Sandoval and Catherine Tambini try their best to show both sides of the issue. But those who oppose the immigrants' presence - a group called Sachem Quality of Life (SQL) - can easily be seen as racists because they don't really seem to be able to articulate their views without turning shrill.

We see SQL people accusing immigrants of harassing young women, and accosting immigrants on the road and berating them in English (the immigrants don't speak the language). SQL also did itself no favors by aligning with some national anti-immigration groups and getting speakers from those groups to address a local "Day of Truth" conference. And it's in awfully poor taste when SQL members sing "God bless America" and seem to be gloating after Suffolk County legislators fail to override the county executive's veto of creating a hiring hall for the migrant workers.

So while we see the immigrants standing on street corners, working, organizing, cleaning and maintaining soccer fields, and their allies calling for more tolerance and a real solution to the problem, their opponents include a California woman who not only rants "illegal aliens...rob, rape and murder our innocent citizens," she also believes "once they (Hispanics) reconquer and control this government, which they have vowed to do...that if you're not a Latino, you will be expelled."

What is made absolutely clear in this film is there needs to be a workable solution to this problem, and not just a knee-jerk reaction. As a resident - a former cop and Marine - points out eloquently in a public meeting, he would do anything to better the life of his family and these immigrants "are children of God that are coming here for some help."

But a lack of understanding - on both sides - only raises the anger level and it results in two immigrants being physically assaulted and a Hispanic house being firebombed. There's also brief mention of a local woman who was killed by an immigrant drunken driver, but the film never makes it clear when he was part of this immigrant group profiled in the film.

I wish Sandoval and Tambini had spent more time with town residents Louise and Tom, who walk through their neighborhood raising concerns they have about the influx. Although Louise admits she has a "real problem with people here illegally," her concern is that rental homes are housing 20 and 30 migrants each and that's causing a huge problem. Tom complains about the sudden truck traffic in his neighborhood. You may not agree with their views, but they don't come off as nasty. The film doesn't say whether Tom and Louise are part of SQL. I didn't think they were, which is why I wanted to see more of them.

This film is a sad commentary about contemporary society. It's obvious these immigrants are integral to the economy, something most elected officials, especially on the national level, would be loath to admit. A local contractor says he put an ad for American workers "and it was a joke" what happened.

The depressing aspect is how an important human issue like this skewers people's perspectives and brings out the worst in them. When the Mexican immigrants get permission from the school board to use the soccer fields in exchange for mowing the grass, cleaning the fields, landscaping, fixing the fences etc., a resident wrote to the school board, "I find it distressing that these illegal immigrants are being permitted to play soccer side-by-side with our children."

Sadly, it's apparent we still have a long, long way to go in this country when it comes to race relations.


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