The hate-based attempted murder of two Mexican day laborers thrusts a small town onto the frontline of the new border wars—the suburbs. Told through the deeply personal stories of its characters—town residents and day workers—The Farmingville Project reveals the larger, more complex truth of how mismanaged national policies can lead to fear, isolation, and racism in America today.

An award-winning crew has assembled for this 90-minute, verité-style documentary. As committed filmmakers, we have moved behind the headlines to show all sides of this controversy through the voices of individuals not usually heard beyond soundbites. The voices of suburban citizens baffled by why they are labeled racists in the media because of their attempts to preserve their neighborhood. The voices of undocumented Mexican immigrants confused by why their willingness to work hard and fill a labor void leads to relentless and often violent harassment. And the voices of extremists who want to put tanks on the streets to deport the “illegal invaders.”

The immigration debate has moved from agricultural fields and urban factories to suburban esquinas, street corners where men from Mexico and Central America gather to look for work. With over 35 million Hispanics in the United States growing at four times the rate of the rest of the population, many experts believe Farmingville is a test case for how America adapts to its changing face.

To tell this story from the inside out, we lived and worked in Farmingville for nearly a year. Taking advantage of digital technology, we’ve been able to capture the story as it happens, to move in and out of events and people’s lives fluidly and unobtrusively. We have shot over 200 hours in the life of Farmingville. It is bilingual footage of intimate personal stories gained through hard-won trust, of vacillating emotions that leave the viewer caught between empathy and disdain, sometimes for the same character or the same cause, at the same moment.

Against the backdrop of the trials and convictions of the day workers’ attackers, we witness free-for-all demonstrations, highly charged, visually powerful confrontations between ordinary people that bring to life the debate over such fundamental issues as the role of immigration in a democratic and increasingly pluralistic society. We follow men to Mexico to see why they brave the border and endure the loneliness and long hours of work.

The Farmingville Project captures the complex story of the latest battle for the American dream—a round in which suburban residents struggle to maintain their grasp on it, as their Mexican counterparts gather on street corners in search of the very same.

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