Farmingville is documentary film making at its finest. However, people's reactions to this film will largely be based on their political opinions regarding the issues the film addresses - illegal immigration, cultural and linguistic diversity. The directors present an account of life in Farmingville, a Long Island suburban community that saw a dramatic influx of legal and illegal immigrants from Mexico and Central America during the 1990s. The demographic and cultural changes that accompany this transition lead to community turmoil and conflict, as a large segment of white Farmingville yearns for the "good old days." Soon, an immigration control group calling itself "Sachem Quality of Life" springs up, and the community becomes the center of an ugly debate over immigration and race following an incident in which two white thugs attempt to murder two Mexican day laborers in 2000.
The film makers step back and avoid injecting narration into this film. Instead, they provide footage gathered from over a year of filming in Farmingville and allow the viewer to see the events unfold. One of the things I find most ironic about the reviews of this film is that some people claim that the directors intended to paint white Farmingville residents as simple-minded racists. This is most bizarre, since the film points out the sharp divisions in opinion among the town's white residents over 1) the nature of the immigration problem, 2) the solution to the problem, and 3) the sense of threat that residents feel in the midst of large numbers of Mexicans and Central Americans.
Some scenes do depict white residens issuing blatantly racist comments (such as an anti-day laborer rally in which a middle-aged white male in a baseball cap screams, "If Mexico wants a war, we should bomb them back to the stone age!"). However, remember that these events REALLY happened, and these statements were issued by REAL members of the Farmingville community. The directors are just presenting what happened.
It is also quite ironic considering the ethnic backgrounds of the white Farmingville residents who bark loudest against the Mexican and Central American day laborers. Judging by the names, Farmingville's population largely consists of Euro-Americans of Italian, Jewish, Polish, and Irish ancestry. What struck me most about Farmingville is how the nativist anti-foreign backlash has now come full circle; a century ago Southern and Eastern Europeans were seen as a cultural, social, and linguistic threat to Anglo-Saxon America. Italians, Jews, and Poles were regarded as unassimilable hordes and "inferior races" who took jobs from Americans, refused to learn the language, and were disintegrating society. Large numbers of Italians arrived illegally in America, as the derogatory anti-Italian slur "wop" (short for 'without papers') attests. Yet today, these immigrants are now considered role models. Instead, it is the children and grandchildren of these turn of the century immigrants that now foster and foment these very same fears that were uttered against their grandparents not so long ago.
Farmingville does an excellent job portraying various sides of these issues, and it is sure to stir the emotions of the viewer (regardless of their personal political persuation).