Farewell Ferris Wheel

Another documentary film that really excites me is called “Farewell Ferris Wheel.” Written and directed by Jamie Sisley and my sister Elaine’s incredibly talented nephew, Miguel ‘M.i.G.” Martinez, it’s the story of the Mexican workers that legally come to the U.S. for 8 months every year under special temporary visas to work in the traveling carnival and fair industry.

It’s a powerful and compelling film and I hope you’ll go out of your way to see it. “Farewell Ferris Wheel” has its national television premier broadcast tomorrow night, October 10th, at 8 PM EST on “America Reframed” on many PBS stations and you can also find it on Netflix, ITunes and other streaming services.

Beyond telling an important story, “Farewell Ferris Wheel” is also a very beautiful film— I found the scenes of the carnivals and fairs at night especially unforgettable. Full of color and light, they cast the workers’ lives against a lovely kind of moving poetry.

What I will remember even more about this extraordinary film, though, are the scenes in Veracruz, Mexico, after the fair and carnival workers return home to their wives and children at the end of the season.

Full of intimacy and tenderness, those moments in the film reveal how much the men give up when they are in the U.S., having gone so far and put up with so much for the people they love.

* * *

That special visa program that is the subject of Farewell Ferris Wheel is called the H2B program.  Individual employers in the U.S. use the H2B program to bring seasonal, non-agricultural workers from Mexico and Central America in cases where they can demonstrate that they cannot obtain local workers.

Several hundred H2B workers also make up the largest part of the workforce in the crab picking industry on the North Carolina coast, especially in small towns like Grantsboro, Aurora, Oriental, Swan Quarter and Columbia. Watching “Farewell Ferris Wheel” helped me to see and appreciate those men’s and women’s lives, too.

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