Documentary Examines Landmark Farm Worker Strike Driven by Race and Feudal Economics
LOS ANGELES, CA, February 2005 — Latino Public Broadcasting (LPB), a non-profit organization funded by The Corporation for Public Broadcasting, announced today that Valley of Tears, a one-hour documentary recounting the 1979 strike by Mexican-American migrant workers in Raymondville, Texas, will premiere on public television stations nationwide in April 2005. (Check local listings.)
“Valley of Tears is a poignant portrayal of the migrant and immigrant experience,” said Luca Bentivoglio, executive director, Latino Public Broadcasting. “The universality of the class struggle then and now makes this a timeless documentary.”
Valley of Tears recreates the 1979 Raymondville, Texas strike by Mexican-American farm workers as they struggle against the injustices imposed upon them. Rallying together to complain about their meager wages ($.20 to fill a bag of onions, a wage that had not changed in 20 years), the strike becomes larger, engulfing the Latino side of town. The hour-long documentary spans 20 years, revealing the difficulties of diverse cultures trying to live together.
A thriving town in the 1950s, today Raymondville seems to be dying, divided along its racial lines. After the strike, the farm community was unwilling to employ local pickers and decided on automated picking equipment or just sold their farms. Businesses closed and unemployment continues to grow in this Rio Grande Valley town.
This account about the difficulties of diverse cultures trying to live together and the endless exploitation of those foreign to this country unfolds in this sixty minute film. Producer, director and cinematographer Hart Perry effectively uses a cinema verite technique to draw the viewer in by juxtaposing actual footage of the time with current townspeople interviews. The result is a compelling and thought-provoking capsule in time of the tensions in a multicultural society.
Created in 1998 by Edward James Olmos and Marlene Dermer, Latino Public Broadcasting (LPB) is a non-profit organization funded by The Corporation for Public Broadcasting. LPB’s mission is to support the development, production, post-production, acquisition and distribution of non-commercial educational and cultural television that is representative of or addresses issues of particular interest to U.S. Latinos. These programs are produced for dissemination to public broadcasting stations and other public telecommunication entities. Mr. Olmos is presently LPB’s Chairman of the Board of Directors.
For 42 years, American Public Television (APT) has been a major source of programming for the nation’s public television stations. APT is known for identifying innovative programs and developing creative distribution techniques for producers. In four decades, it has established a tradition of providing public television stations nationwide with program choices that enable them to strengthen and customize their schedules. For more information about APT’s programs and services, visit APTonline.org.