The documentary film “Hands of Harvest,” produced by Adrian Muys and restaurateur Matt Haley, has been added to the PBS network’s national programming lineup.
The film, which debuted in March 2010 to a full house at Milton Theatre as part of the Delmarva Roots film series, illustrates the struggles and fortitude of the migrant Mexican women who fuel the crabbing industry on the Eastern Shore. As one of Maryland’s most viable economic resources, as well as a cultural icon, the blue crab business takes center stage, delving into the history and strife of the watermen who fight to keep their livelihood intact.
The 56-minute film originally appeared on PBS in July 2010, but has since made a revival, catching the eye of the National Education Telecommunications Association, or NETA, which has aired and distributed the documentary through the national PBS network. Since then, “Hands of Harvest” has aired in Los Angeles; Chicago; Houston; Washington, D.C.; Baltimore; Phoenix; Portland; San Diego and New York City. It will be airing in cities throughout the U.S. for at least another year. The film has also been screened at Salisbury University, Johns Hopkins University, University of Maryland, Washington College and the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum.
Muys says he is thrilled with the film’s recent praise, adding that he is proud the production has brought further attention to the H-2B visa program as part of the Immigration and Nationality Act established in 1980. This focus has, in turn, brought about discussions on the topic of keeping workers, such as those portrayed in the film, working in the Delmarva Region.
“As a restaurateur, I use a lot of Hispanic workers, and I care about the conditions that they live and work in and how they are treated in the community,” explains Haley. “The blue crab industry is of interest to people all across the Delmarva Peninsula and the Eastern Shore - it’s an institution. Many don’t realize how dependent this struggling industry is on Hispanic workers and what their life is like here.”
Since “Hands of Harvest,” Haley has produced a second film, “Motorcycle Chang pa,” which chronicles the lives and travels of the nomadic Changpa tribe through the high-altitude deserts of the Himalayas. Haley’s new production company, SoDel Films, is in the process of creating an independent film in Delaware with actor and filmmaker Paul Webster.