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Life Is Suffering, and Everything Is Temporary

Jul 18, 2018 | 831 videos
Video by Brad Bischoff

Late one night, filmmaker Brad Bischoff sat down with his father-in-law, Roberto Olivera, for a couple of beers. Bischoff knew little about Olivera’s background, save for Olivera’s heritage as a Mexican immigrant. He decided to ask. “I remember being totally awestruck by his captivating story,” Bischoff told The Atlantic. “I wanted to capture the feeling I felt and share it.”

The result is Field Song, a meditative short film in which Olivera shares his hard-won life lessons over images of the tomato fields in which he toiled with other migrant workers. Eventually, Olivera put himself through law school and became financially successful with a family of his own. It wasn’t until later in life that he was able to internalize the wisdom he gleaned from his family’s suffering.

Bischoff doesn’t show the storyteller—nor does he move the camera—until the end of the film, when we meet Olivera as he sings a soulful ballad in Spanish.

“There exists a great divide between the hands that give and the hands that receive,” Bischoff said. “It is our hope that this film is one step toward bridging that gap—by giving the fields a face.”

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Author: Emily Buder

About This Series

A showcase of cinematic short documentary films, curated by The Atlantic.