In Mexico the children of farm labourers are obliged to work at an early age. They toil away on farms, tend livestock, harvest tomatoes, chillies or sweet corn, burn clay tiles, weave material, carve wooden alebrije figures, fetch water and even manage to take care of their younger brothers and sisters. This is how it has been for generations. The older children show the younger ones what is to be done, teach them their tricks and pass on all the necessary tools. Every day represents a fresh struggle for survival and the only freedom they have is the short period of time before they go to sleep. Child workers can’t go to school because their parents rely on their help. Yet their lack of education practically eradicates their chances of a decent future. Their lives are a vicious circle of poverty and pauperisation from which there is no escape. Eugenio Polgovsky’s documentary is an impressive depiction of the bleak lives of Mexico’s rural population. As in his earlier work, TRÓPICO DE CÁNCER, he concentrates not just on the children but on whole families who are obliged to eke out an existence in such miserable conditions. Polgovsky’s commitment to his protagonists in this film is reminiscent of the early socio-critical works of directors such as Jean Rouch and Fernando Birri.
by Eugenio Polgovsky
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