Directed by: Cynthia Hill, Charles Thompson
Starring: Don Candelario Gonzalez Morena, Don Willibaldo Gomez, Len Wester
A straightforward but involving documentary about the guest worker program that allows Mexican workers to legally come to the U.S. to work on farms for a specified period of time on a contractual basis. The approach of The Guest Worker (2006) is remarkably evenhanded, painting neither the workers in too saintly terms nor the bosses in too demonized ones. Indeed, both are shown with admirable humanity, and North Carolina farmer Len Wester is shown as a decent and humane man, regardless of how one feels about the program.
The program itself comes across less well, but only because the film merely presents it for what it is: a chance to work, but at considerable personal cost. The film’s biggest asset lies in focusing on 65-year-old worker Don Candelario, a veteran of 40 years of working on American farms. A pragmatic, philosophical, but clearly worn down and unhappy man, he comes to represent the sense of men making the best of a situation over which they’ve little or no control.
The Media Arts Project will present The Guest Worker Wednesday, Oct. 10, at 7 p.m. at the Fine Arts Theatre.