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// Films // El Contrato

National Film Board

El Contrato

Min Sook Lee / Canada / 2003 / 51 ' / English - Spanish / S.T. English


Katharine Asais
John Westheuser & David Patrick
Karen King-Chigbo

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2003 Winner, Ibero- American Film Festival, Best Documentary

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Poverty-sticken labourers facing exploitative working conditions make their annual migration to southern Ontario.


El Contrato follows Teodoro Bello Martinez, a poverty-stricken father of four living in Central Mexico, and several of his countrymen as they make an annual migration to southern Ontario. For eight months of the year the town's population absorbs 4000 migrant labourers who pick tomatoes for conditions and wages no local will accept. Under a well-meaning government program that allows growers to monitor themselves, the opportunity to exploit workers is as ripe as the fruit they pick. Grievances are deflected by a long line of others "back home" who are willing to take their place. Despite a fear of repercussions, the workers voice their desire for dignity and respect, as much as for better working conditions. El Contrato ends as winter closes in and the Mexicans pledge, not for the first time and possibly not the last, that it's their final season in the north.


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