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Farmingville Documentary Review Essays

December 18, 2006 Long Island, New York

The New York Times published an article yesterday about day laborers living and working in Mamaroneck, Farmingville and other communities in New York and Connecticut. Recently, a judge ruled in favor of a group of day laborers in Mamaroneck who sued the village saying that its police officers harassed them because they are Hispanic. The judge gave town officials until January 5, 2007 to offer a solution, and many local governments in surrounding areas are watching to see what they decide to do.
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November 13, 2006 Long Island, New York

Louise, one of the characters in the film, has founded a local residents' group to try
and breach the local divide. Read more about it in this Newsday article.

July 27, 2004 Long Island, New York

The New York Times reports on the arrest of a Long Island man who had been posing as a contractor, picking up Mexican day laborers in Farmingville, driving them to remote locations, and robbing them at gunpoint. Read more about the arrest. (article available free for 7 days from publication and archived after that)

May 2004, Long Island, New York

Since completion of the film in November, 2003, little has changed on Farmingville's streets. The men still gather on the corners. Residents still protest, although the protestors are down to a handful of SQL stalwarts. The situation can best be described as lying somewhere between an uneasy stand-off and frustrated resignation.

Eduardo has been joined by his wife and son, reflecting the general trend of more women coming to Farmingville, more families reuniting and establishing roots. Human Solidarity's soccer league is reportedly up to 25 teams, with 25 players per team.

Brookhaven Citizens for Peaceful Solutions continues its work, offering services to the immigrants.

As a result of her appearance in the film, Louise has met with Legislators Tonna and Foley. She is increasingly committed to promoting the middle voice in the community.

As part of a national engagement campaign, numerous groups-- from the Brookings Institute to grassroots organizations across the country - are screening the film to shed light on challenges created by new immigrant communities in suburbs and small towns. This campaign is being organized and implemented by Active Voice, a sister company of POV For more information on "The Farmingville Campaign" visit activevoice.net.

The film itself has garnered extraordinary acclaim and attention. It was the subject of an editorial in The New York Times and one in Newsday, which hailed it as "required viewing for every decision-maker and local official in the State of New York."

"Farmingville" has won numerous awards including: Special Jury Prize Sundance 2004; Best Documentary CineFestival and San Diego Latino Film Festival; Human Rights Award RiverRun Film Festival. Farmingville is one of five films chosen to represent the United States at INPUT 2004 (the International Public Television Conference), held in Barcelona, Spain.

— Carlos Sandoval and Catherine Tambini

ONE year ago tomorrow, a group of teenagers used a Fourth of July rocket to set the house of a sleeping Mexican family ablaze in Farmingville. Because neighbors rushed to help, Sergio Perez and Maria Garcia and their two young children were saved.

Last month, ''Farmingville,'' a documentary about racism and immigrant labor on Long Island, was broadcast on television, renewing the debate. The Op-Ed editors asked two people who appeared in the film to share their perspectives on the growing tensions between itinerant workers and the residents of Farmingville and to suggest what can be done.

I HAVE lived in Farmingville for almost 18 years. It is a middle-class community made up of people from ethnically diverse backgrounds -- an average suburban town. But about seven years ago, the town began to change. Groups of men started to congregate on street corners, or sit outside houses on the main road. There were no women or children, just men.

After a time, it became clear that the men were mostly from Mexico, and that they had come here, most illegally, to find work. It's no exaggeration to say that their presence has completely changed the town.

As a woman, I feel intimidated. It's unsettling to walk past 30 or 40 men standing outside the 7-Eleven. My elderly mother no longer takes her regular walks; she's also changed her shopping schedule so that she can go to the stores when there are fewer men around. One morning, at 3, my dogs started barking wildly. I looked out the window to see the silhouette of a man holding onto my front gate. I was terrified and called 911. The police told me that the man was Hispanic, drunk and thought that he lived in my house. They took him home. The tension in the community has increased because of the absence of local, state and federal law enforcement.

But it's not just my life that has been altered. Take housing, for example. Farmingville has a lot of one-family houses. Today, many of them are crammed with 25 to 30 Mexican laborers who are forced to sleep on the floors. Normally, the average monthly rent for one of these houses would be $1,500, but I have been told that the laborers are charged as much as $400 to $500 per month each. It's a situation that is bad for them, and bad for neighboring homeowners. It's obvious which houses these are; they're in terrible shape and falling apart.

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