Valley of Tears | Chicago Reader

Valley of Tears

Hart Perry (who also shot Barbara Kopple's 1976 Oscar winner Harlan County, U.S.A.) directed this complex, unsettling labor documentary (2003) about Mexican-American onion pickers in south Texas who called a strike in 1979 against the low wages they'd endured for more than 20 years. When Perry revisited the town more than a decade later to cover an acrimonious school board election, he found a broken, economically depressed, and racially divided community. Perry has the courage to question whether the workers are really better off for having rocked the status quo: most of the farmers have since gone under or converted to mechanized labor. 83 min.


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