Emily Cohen Ibanez “Fruits of Labor SXSW Interview

Portrait of 4th World Indigenous Media Lab fellows, Ashley Solis Pavon (seated) and Emily Cohen Ibañez. Photographed at the Big Sky Documentary Film Festival in 2020.

The insightful film “Fruits of Labor” focuses on California Central Coast’s rich soil, the beautiful nature of the area, and the laborers that work the fields. Ashley, an energetic, vibrant teen, works in those fields to help provide for the family. Providing empathy for child and teen Farm Laborers, this beautiful film gives us a true picture of the situation.

Filmmaker Emily Cohen Ibanez met her when she was 15 years old—two years later, she filmed her senior year of High School, documenting her struggles of balancing school and her farm work. The film premiered at the SXSW 2021 Film Festival. I spoke with director Emily Cohen Ibanez shortly after the festival.

I interviewed Emily Cohen Ibanez for the Alliance of Women Film Journalists to read the entire article, click here: https://bit.ly/EmilyCohenIbanez-Interview

Find out below how you can help support the cause of child farm labor and organizations that are helping to make a difference.

SKA: Can you tell me when you met Ashley and her family?

I met Ashley when she was 15. I was doing arts development work, creating a video collective in her town with communities from farm working families and college students. And Ashley just really stood out. She’s a sensitive young woman, she’s engaged, she’s an advocate for her community. She also had a wonderful eye and was teaching the young people camera, and she just had an enormous amount of curiosity. I was really drawn to her and wanting to continue her development as a young person and then got to know her family. Two years after meeting her and her family, I asked her if I could film her in her last year of high school.

What can people support agencies that are working for better Farm Labor conditions? Also, are there local groups in the California Central Coast area?

There are wonderful organizations like The United Farm Workers with a long history in organizing, especially for strawberry workers. There’s a Dolores Huerta Foundation that supports, especially young girls, Latina girls in farm working communities with their higher education.

The organization we worked really close with, and actually my sister is the executive director, and they started this group, Youth Growing Justice. They help the local community fight to reclaim city lands for community gardens. It’s called Community Agroecology Network. They do a lot of very specific work with youth. Ashley got to travel to Nicaragua and meet farmers there. We also work in Mexico. We do all these different exchanges between Mexico and Nicaragua, and California around food security.

Sarah Knight Adamson© March 31, 2021