From the Fields was distributed nationwide to NBC Affiliates in fall of 2012. The film received the Gracie Award for Outstanding Director-News/Non-Fiction, the California Film Orson Welles Award-Grand Category, and the CreaTV Award for Excellence in Directing.
About one hour south of the wealthy Silicon Valley and twenty minutes east of the affluent Monterey/Carmel area, home of the famous Pebble Beach Golf Course, sits the head of the fertile Salinas Valley. Known as the “salad bowl of the world” for its production of lettuce, broccoli, and many other crops, the Salinas Valley is home to thousands of Mexican American and immigrant families with strong ties to agriculture. About 30 miles into the valley is the small agricultural town of Greenfield, where journalist Damian Trujillo’s family first settled in 1972 after coming to the United States from Mexico through the Bracero Program.
Damian’s parents struggled to support their family of ten on the meager wages they earned laboring in the fields. Growing up, Damian shared a room with his five brothers and in seventh grade he joined his parents and older siblings working in the fields. He dreamed of breaking this cycle. Despite knowing little about higher education, Damian was the first in his family to graduate from college. His older brothers and sisters sacrificed their own educations to work to make money for their family.
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Trailer Courtesy of Carolyn Brown
This 30-minute documentary follows the life of Damian Trujillo, from farmworker in the Salinas Valley to student at San Jose State University where Damian first realized he had an accent while working at the college radio station. Finally, it follows his path to the NBC newsroom. Early in his career Damian feared having to go back to working in the fields, the only other reality he understood. From his regrets over his early relationship with his father to being told he talked like a “gang member,” Damian talks about what it means to be a proud Chicano, how he gives back to his community, and why he wants his children to know where they came from. Damian’s story is the quintessential American success story.
The goal of this project is to intervene in the popular stereotypes that depict Latinos as “illegals” or “gang members,” among other negative representations. From the Fields: An American Journey deconstructs popular perceptions of Latinos by reframing the American success story. This film goes beyond the hateful rhetoric surrounding the immigration debate and into a deeper exploration of what it means to work, to support family, and to contribute to our American society.