Actress and producer Eva Longoria and director U. Roberto Romano attend… (Alberto E. Rodriguez / Getty…)
The cost of fruits and vegetables for the seasonal workers who harvest them is no secret: long hours with no minimum wage or overtime pay, the physical toll of the labor itself and the danger of pesticide poisoning. For kids born into families who depend on migrant farm work, there's also the price of lost childhood and disrupted education.
"The Harvest/La Cosecha" is a straightforward, intimate and heartbreaking chronicle of the 2009-10 farm seasons for three teens, smart and sensitive, who have been following the crops with their parents for as long as they can remember.
Just one of many dismal statistics concerning migrants is a dropout rate that's four times the national figure — no surprise, given the constant uprooting and uncertainty. An especially powerful element of U. Roberto Romano's documentary is the worry that plays out on his young subjects' faces, even when they're being philosophical beyond their years: the sense of responsibility they feel toward their families.
Sixteen-year-old Victor Huapilla only wants to see his younger siblings accomplish what he might not — finish school.
The families make their temporary homes in dilapidated camp houses in order to pick produce they often can't afford to buy. Perla Sanchez, 14, keenly aware of the vicious economic cycle, hopes to become a lawyer so she can help migrant workers. But for some, the horizon is not that wide.
With troubling clarity, spirited 12-year-old Zulema Lopez concedes that she might have a goal or two, but "I'm not so sure about a dream."
"The Harvest/La Cosecha." No MPAA rating. Running time: 1 hour, 22 minutes. At Laemmle's Music Hall 3, Beverly Hills.