Written by Maria Manuella Pache de Athayde
In Fruits of Labor, directed by Emily Cohen Ibanez, we are introduced to 15-year farm workers and high school student Ashley Solis who was born in California but whose family originally immigrated from Mexico. At its core this is a documentary about the human experience, told through the eyes of a girl, as she navigates life and the blessings that come with being from an immigrant family in the United States. The more I watch stories about immigrants the more in awe I am of those who made that journey. They remind me of my own immigrant experience and how it made me who I am today.
What made this documentary work wasn’t the horrific and cruel images of child separation and ICE raids that overlap with Ashley’s story. We know the US immigration system is broken. Instead, this narrative works because it tells a story of a girl coming into her own and finding her own voice so she can tell her story in her own words. Even though the odds are stacked against her Ashley perseveres, often unnoticed, putting her future on hold, and, at the same time, preserving her family’s tradition of curandera (healing) and storytelling. It is hard not to be moved by Ashley’s journey.