8.2/10
26
2 user 7 critic

Immokalee U.S.A. (2008)

Every season, tens of thousands of migrant farmworkers converge on small communities like Immokalee, Florida where they plant and harvest the food that Americans consume. A vast majority of... See full summary »

Director:

Georg Koszulinski
Reviews
2 wins. See more awards »

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Storyline

Every season, tens of thousands of migrant farmworkers converge on small communities like Immokalee, Florida where they plant and harvest the food that Americans consume. A vast majority of these workers are undocumented, leaving them at the mercy of the large agribusinesses who hire them, the crew leaders who contract them and the landlords and businesses that profit from the seasonal arrival of migrant workers. Their "undocumented" legal status allows for a system of exploitation that leaves workers and their families to endure conditions and wages that rarely meet international human rights standards. Immokalee U.S.A. documents these daily experiences, leading the viewer to examine their own role in the issues migrant workers face in the U.S.A. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Being an account of migrant farmworkers in the U.S.A.

Genres:

Documentary

Certificate:

Not Rated
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

26 September 2008 (Australia) See more »

Filming Locations:

Immokalee, Florida, USA

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Box Office

Budget:

$120,000 (estimated)
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Company Credits

Production Co:

Substream Films See more »
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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Stereo

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The word "Immokalee" comes from the Seminole dialect and translates to "my home," or more accurately, "my cage." See more »

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User Reviews

 
The smiles in Immokalee are few and far between
26 August 2008 | by howard.schumannSee all my reviews

Looking older than their years, stoop-shouldered men wait for buses at 4:30 each morning to take them to the fields where they toil in the unforgiving sun from morning to night, planting, picking, and processing the food that Americans will eat in their comfortable homes. Those that are lucky to find work have to tolerate conditions below international health standards: poverty wages, long hours without overtime pay, cramped living conditions, physical abuse, no employment benefits, and retaliation against workers who organize. Living in cheaply rented trailers and often mistreated by the crew leaders who contract them, many of the seasonal farmworkers are undocumented and are beholden to the large agribusiness conglomerates that hire them.

Georg Koszulinski's powerful film Immokalee U.S.A., now making the rounds of film festivals, documents the lives of the people of Immokalee, Florida, a small farming community eighty miles southeast of Ft. Myers, observing farmworkers, social workers, a farm boss, and the wife of a deported worker as they go about their daily routine. Koszulinski does not preach and places no blame. With no voice-over narration, his camera simply records and the images speak for themselves. A young mother shows us a picture of a small boy who recently died of cancer caused by pesticide poisoning, a mother sends her children to school while fixing burritos for her husband's lunch, and tamales that she can sell in the fields to make a few dollars. An owner says that Americans will not do this work anymore, that the only ones now who are willing to work are illegals, and that he is aware that some crew leaders mistreat some workers but most owners take care of their people.

One mother explains that her older daughter constantly asks questions such as why her father works every day of the week, why he leaves so early, and why she herself comes home so late but she has no easy answers for her daughter. She simply tells the camera that "we have little but we are happy for it. You don't need money to be happy." Yet the pain is written on the face of Mateo Diego, an undocumented immigrant from Guatemala who has been waiting each morning for fifteen days without being asked. "I just want a house, a job to have money, maybe buy a car, he says. "I don't want to be here just passing the time. I don't want to be a tourist, just money to support my family." The most heartbreaking sequence in the film follows Mateo as he desperately tries to phone his brother, putting all of his coins into pay phones that do not work. He shows little emotion until Koszulinski hands him a cell phone and he is able to reach his brother. "I'm going back", he tells him, then begins to cry. "This is an embarrassment", he whispers. Later he seems to lose touch with reality, complaining that people here are trying to kill him and refusing to eat for fifteen days until forced to by an aid worker.

We hear much about illegal immigration yet most do not fully understand that men who come here often lose their wives, their children, and their country because they do not earn enough money to send back to their families. As one farmer says, "They don't know who or where they are. They dream to come here but it often ends in failure." In spite of the pain, however, there is a strong feeling of community in Immolakee and the Guadalupe Center, a charitable organization, feeds the hungry each day, providing special meals for holidays like Thanksgiving. A carnival also comes to town and it is gratifying to see the smiles on the faces of the children, but the smiles in Immokalee are few and far between.


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