Two-time Emmy nominated documentary filmmaker Bernardo Ruiz (Reportero, Kingdom of Shadows) is bound for DOC NYC with his most recent film Harvest Season, a timely and moving portrait of the Mexican-American influence an legacy on California’s multibillion-dollar wine industry. Ruiz’s film will have its New York premiere on Tuesday, November 13 and Thursday, November 15 at the IFC Center.
Far-reaching and compassionate in its scope, Harvest Season probes the lives of the temporary laborers, permanent residents, and multigenerational Latinos intimately connected to the production of premium wines in the Napa and Sonoma regions of Northern California—in the midst of one of the most dramatic grape harvests in recent memory.
The film follows the stories of three distinct subjects essential to the wine industry yet, as with many others, are rarely recognized for their contributions: veteran winemaker Gustavo Brambila, Mexican migrant worker René Reyes, and wine entrepreneur Vanessa Robledo. Harvest Season successfully stitches together vignettes of daily life for migrant workers and positions them next to stories of Mexican-American wine entrepreneurs whose roots run deep in Northern California.
Their stories unfold against the complex backdrop of reality in California’s Wine Country—a region of immense wealth that’s accountable for $1.53 billion in export revenue last year. From this notion, Ruiz exposes Napa and Sonoma counties as spaces that inherently symbolize the contradictions foundational to the American story: romanticized global destinations replete with luxury hotels and precious real estate on the one hand, and working-class agricultural communities with high rates of poverty and crises in affordable housing on the other.
Following the wildfires in the area in October of 2017, which caused widespread damage and claimed 44 lives, Ruiz stays on location to document the rebuilding process—making sure to recognize the efforts of these communities that have long been the backbone of one of California’s most important industries.