Gurwinder comes from Punjab, he’s been working for years as a farm hand in Agro Pontino, not far from Rome. Since he first came in Italy, he’s been living with the rest of the Sikh community in Latina province.
Hardeep is also Indian, but her stress is Roman, and she works as a cultural mediator.
She, born and raised in Italy, is trying to free herself from the memories of a family that emigrated in another age, while he is forced, against his faith, to take methamphetamine and doping to bear the heavy work pace, to be able to send money in India.
Gurwinder’s story represents a vast universe of exploitation: a silent army of men bent over the fields working, with no breaks, all around Italy. Manually harvesting vegetables, sowing and planting 12 hours a day under the sun; they call their employer “Lord”, undergo oppression and any kind of violence. 4 euros per hour if they’re lucky, paid after months or sometimes never, violence and blows, work-related injuries which are never reported and easy “dismissals” for who tries to react.
That’s what The Harvest tells: the life inside the Sikh communities living permanently in the Pontine and their relationship with labour market. The members of these communities are mainly employed as day labourers for local agriculture. The episodes of exploitation (gang-master system, piece rates, low salaries, physical and verbal violence) were reported many times, mostly by local associations. Alongside these events, the use of performance-enhancing substances saw a stunning growth, in order to tolerate the hard pace of work in the fields. Substances that, in particular, are amphetamines, oppioids and antispasmodics. The issue of exploitation in farm work and, in particular, of migrant manpower becomes central every summer, gaining attention by the media and bringing to the surface critical issues like gang-master system. Although, this attention is cyclical and disappears when autumn comes.
The Harvest wants to face this issue through an innovative lens combining the styles of documentary and musical, this one used as a plot device to tell the strain of working in the fields and the use of performance-enhancing substances. Through a musical and cinematographic research, this movie wants to tell something that would be hard to bring to the audience attention without being grandiloquent or doctrinaire. To find an innovative artistic form to tell the rough reality that tends to hide in the folds of the everyday life: this is the stylistic crux the documentary faces.
A docu-musical that, for the first time, combines the documentary and the traditional Punjabi choreographies, to show the humiliation of the workers in the fields exploited by the gang-masters.
Two stories intertwining, during one day, from the work in the fields from the first hours of the morning to the evening prayer in the temple. A though work of seeding, day after day, whose deserved harvest, between residence permits to be renewed and fake pay checks, still appears very far.