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Seth Holmes produces film with farm workers and indigenous teens' families

Seth Holmes


"The First Time Home," a film directed and shot by indigenous Triqui teenagers to tell their story as they wish to tell it, will be shown at 7 p.m., Friday, April 22, at the Magic Lantern, 25 W. Main Ave.

Seth Holmes, who graduated from Lewis and Clark in 1993, produced this award-winning film with second-generation indigenous Mexican immigrant youth Noemi Librado Sanchez, Esmirna Librado, Esmeralda Ventura and Heriberto Ventura.

A medical doctor and anthropology professor at the University of Southern California, Seth is sharing the film in Spokane so people can understand how farm workers' work in fields, picking the fruit and vegetables that keep people in society healthy, impacts their own health.

When the four cousins learned their grandfather in Mexico was gravely ill, they traveled for the first time from their communities in Washington and California to their family's ancestral village in Oaxaca. In 2016, they began recording video letters to share with their parents and relatives of U.S. farm workers who had not seen their relatives in Mexico in more than 15 years.

"Through a mix of Spanish, Triqui and English, they visited with their grandparents, aunts and uncles," Seth said. "In the midst of border politics and violence, the cousins forged a link across thousands of miles, developing a newfound pride in their indigenous immigrant identity and a new understanding of the meaning of family."

"The First Time Home" tells about the youths' farm worker families who live in Washington and California and care for family members in Mexico, despite being separated by a border.

Seth, who earned an ecology degree in 1997 at the University of Washington, applied for a grant so the teens could learn to use equipment, capture the footage and do interviews with their parents and grandparents.

"We hope our film introduces people to the lives and realities of immigrants, farm workers and indigenous families like ours. We hope the film shows us how we are connected, including across borders," said the teens.

Sisters Esmirna and Noemi are from California but live in Washington. Esmirna, the mother of a two-year-old, received the San Martin Indigenous Immigrant Scholarship to attend Skagit Valley College and study to be a nurse to provide health care for farm workers. Noemi, a high school senior, wants to write films and short stories. She is writing a children's book while applying to universities.

Esmeralda and Heriberto live in California, but come to Washington every summer to help their families with harvests.
"It's more than their family's story. It's the story of farm workers who feed us," said Seth, who often visits his parents, Carolyn and Ed Holmes, in Spokane.

Making the film was in part inspired by his book, Fresh Fruit, Broken Bodies: Migrant Farmworkers in the United States, which examines the everyday lives and health of Mexican migrants and indigenous people working in today's food system.

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Copyright@ The Fig Tree, April, 2022