Film, Film Review

BLIFF REVIEW: Fruits of Labor (2021) dir. Emily Cohen Ibáñez

Free virtual screening 9/29 via the Boston Latino International Film Festival


WARNING: The following review contains spoilers from Fruits of Labor.

Fruits of Labor is the story of Ashley Solís, a Mexican-American high schooler who is forced to become her family’s breadwinner after ICE threatens to deport her undocumented family members. In the film, she’s in her last year of high school, working in the strawberry fields during the day, studying in the afternoon, and working in a food processing plant at nighttime. It is mentioned that she’s been working in the fields since she was 12 years old or younger, and now, being so tired from working and studying all the time, feels like giving up on school.

In this way, the film tells us a story about hardship and giving up in the face of a storm. But with time, the support and encouragement of Ashley’s mother for her to continue school so that she can be a better person allows her to reflect on what she wants to be in life and keeps her in school. The movie, however, also talks about the joys of Ashley’s life– of being a teenager, of picking out the perfect prom dress, having existential conversations about life and the future with her boyfriend, and so on. On the other hand, I do believe that although Ashley’s life is joyful and meaningful in many ways, it’s not completely normal for a teenage girl, and that makes it more difficult for her, as she has more than enough weight on her shoulders to bear. She has to pay for everything she buys, she has to work to support her family, she has to study for homework, she has to worry every day about her mother being deported and her having to become the main caretaker AND breadwinner of the family. So, in this way, the documentary tells us a very personal story that is extremely important.

How was it?

It was very intriguing. I feel like this is a very important story that needed to be told. And that’s why I liked it so much. It brings us the awareness about how the deportation laws that are made (and if they are supported) can gravely affect the lives of people in ways we can’t even imagine. The film is strikingly beautiful cinematographically, it uses the camera in a very special way, highlighting the importance of nature, family, and ancestors in Ashley’s life.

It really brought a (not-so) new issue into my perception, which I think is important for a documentary to do.

So, go watch it at Boston Latino International Film Festival, and fall in love with Fruits of Labor!

Fruits of Labor
dir. Emily Cohen Ibáñez
78 mins.

Free virtual screening from 9/29-9/30 via the Boston Latino International Film Festival

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