Waynesville Mail

From Music Festivals to Migrant Workers: a Revealing Look at the Contrasting Narratives of Coachella Valley

Invisible Valley


Genre: Documentary
Year Released: 2021
Runtime: 1h 27m
Director(s): Aaron Maurer
Where To Watch: Now Available To Rent or Buy on All Major Digital Platforms

RAVING REVIEW: Aaron Maurer's INVISIBLE VALLEY takes viewers through California's Coachella Valley. The annual music and arts festiv… errr… No, there’s another layer to Coachella that most don’t know exists. This eye-opening documentary blends the contrasting narratives of undocumented workers, affluent tourists, and music festival attendees, revealing the environmental and social crises threatening the region's future.

The film provides a glimpse into the picturesque Coachella Valley, where everyday challenges are shown in parallel to the victories of living in this seemingly perfect paradise. It stresses the role of migrant laborers in sustaining the area's economy and the need for increased national support. There is far more to this valley than meets the eye.

INVISIBLE VALLEY contrasts the flamboyant world we see on TV with the less fortunate agricultural regions of the desert. The story's heart lies with a farmworker family's struggle to save enough money to avoid separation as they follow the harvest northward. This country was built on the backs of the less fortunate, which is no different. It’s essential to realize the reality of what allows modern society to operate the way it does.

Maurer captures the migratory patterns in the Valley. He sheds light on the annual arrival of "snowbirds" and music festival enthusiasts, in addition to the migrant farmworkers who form the backbone of the area's economic success. The documentary presents a candid view of the migrant worker community (you know, those individuals that some people are so rage-filled against for existing,) revealing the remote farming community that relies heavily on their labor. INVISIBLE VALLEY documents these workers' journey through the valley, chasing seasonal harvests along California's coast.

Driven by Maurer and producer Zachary McMillan's desire to expose the Coachella Valley's dualities, INVISIBLE VALLEY takes a human approach to look into the human connections between the area's disparate groups, breaking down political and social barriers in the process.

The documentary also features community members like the compassionate nuns who founded The Galilee Center in Mecca as a refuge for migrant laborers. Despite their selfless intentions, the center faces many challenges, including restrictive building codes, funding shortfalls, and the looming threat of ICE raids. Maurer underscores that the themes of INVISIBLE VALLEY reverberate with countless locations across the U.S. and the world. The documentary seeks to give voice to those who need it most. The film encourages viewers to reexamine their beliefs and engage in meaningful dialogue before it's too late. While covering such powerful content, the film also looks at the impending environmental crisis in the Coachella Valley, focusing on the Salton Sea's dwindling water resources and pollution. 

In conclusion, INVISIBLE VALLEY offers an in-depth analysis of the growing migrant population in the Coachella Valley and the southern U.S. border and their struggles as their labor is used to keep up the locale. Maurer's film humanizes the real people caught in this complex situation.

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[photo courtesy of KINO LORBER]