Almeria, once impoverished region of Spain has become affluent, providing supermarkets with lettuce and other vegetables all year round. But where Wagenhofer only glances at this bizarre landscape and its migrant workers before moving on to his next case study, Belgian-Moroccan director Jawad Rhalib goes beneath the surface.
He is particularly interested in the young Moroccan men who come to the region expecting an economic paradise, only to end up living in makeshift cabins of cardboard and plastic between the greenhouses. He follows three of them-Driss, Moussaid and Djibril-as they look for regular work, revealing their enduring optimism despite dire living conditions. However bad it may be in Europe, they say, there is always a chance of success. In Morocco they felt they had no future.
While this is the film’s central narrative, a series of other encounters reveals the complexity of the society that has developed around El Ejido, Almeria’s main town. There are workers from Sub-Saharan Africa, who struggle to bring their wives and families to join them, and from Eastern Europe, who take the better paid jobs in the packing factories. The film’s most enigmatic figure is a silent young Malian nightwatchman who keeps a herd of goats next to his hut, like a piece of rural Africa transplanted between the greenhouses.
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