The Guest Worker

Movie Information

The Media Arts Project will present The Guest Worker Wednesday, Oct. 10, at 7 p.m. at the Fine Arts Theatre.
Genre: Documentary
Director: Cynthia Hill, Charles Thompson
Starring: Don Candelario Gonzalez Morena, Don Willibaldo Gomez, Len Wester
Rated: NR

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.

About Ken Hanke
Head film critic for Mountain Xpress since December 2000. Author of books "Ken Russell's Films," "Charlie Chan at the Movies," "A Critical Guide to Horror Film Series," "Tim Burton: An Unauthorized Biography of the Filmmaker."

One thought on “The Guest Worker

  1. daniel

    This film shows the emotional “tug of war” that farmworkers endure in an attempt to better the economic well-being of their families, their “401k” plan, so to speak. In the process, we as consumers gain and the best system in place makes me long for the family camp in the Grapes Of Wrath. More education should be presented to our citizens to inform them of the lack of protections OR change in 50 years; regarding migrant farmworker issues.

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