H-2 Worker

Shot clandestinely over three and a half years, Stephanie Black's documentary about the exploitation of Jamaican and other Caribbean sugarcane workers in Florida is a good example of investigative reporting of outrages that occur under our very noses—good enough to win the prize for best documentary at the 1990 United States Film Festival. The workers in question (more than 10,000 annually) are granted six-month H-2 visas in order to harvest sugarcane by hand—work so dangerous and underpaid that Americans aren't willing to do it—and are required to live as virtual slaves. Black makes effective offscreen use of the cards and letters some of these workers write to their relatives back home, though this is otherwise a conventionally shaped documentary. Still, the facts speak loud and disturbingly for themselves (1989).

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