San Leandro, Calif. — Sanjay Rawal is an Indian American strategist and filmmaker who focuses on the links between our sustenance and the thousands of anonymous workers who grow it in the fields — many of whom experience wage theft and physical or sexual abuse.
After working in the nonprofit sector alongside his father, agricultural geneticist Dr. Kanti Rawal, for nearly a decade, he decided to put what he learned to work in the media. Rawal served as a consultant to documentary filmmakers and then branched out as a filmmaker himself with “Ocean Monk,” which took the Best Short Doc Prize at the 2010 St. Louis Film Festival; and “Challenging Impossibility,” which premiered at Tribeca in 2011.
Now, Rawal is speaking to an even larger audience with a feature-length documentary called “Food Chains.” The film, which premiered at the latest Berlinale, describes the challenges that farm workers endure despite years of work by leaders such as Cesar Chavez.
“‘Food Chains’ reveals the human cost in our food supply and the complicity of large buyers of produce like fast food and supermarkets,” said a spokesperson.
Executive producers of the film include actress Eva Longoria (who is active on behalf of Hispanic issues) and best-selling author Eric Schlosser (“Fast Food Nation”). Rawal, noted environmental activist and one-time president of The Nation Institute Hamilton Fish V, and Indian American film producer Smriti Keshari are listed as producers.
In his work in development strategy, Rawal has assisted in the launch and management of a number of high-profile celebrity philanthropic endeavors both domestically and abroad, according to his official bio. The UC Berkeley graduate in molecular & cell biology and neurobiology has also assisted in the development of private equity investments in agriculture.
According to a spokesperson for the film, “While fascination and concern about what we eat is at an all-time high, there is little reliable information on how our food actually gets to the family table … The plight of migrant farm workers remains a nagging social justice and human rights issue.”
Rawal will present the film Nov. 11 at the Yountville Community Center in the wine country town of Yountville, Calif., as part of the fourth annual Napa Valley Film Festival. Following the screening, Rawal will join an extended panel discussion of the issues surrounding Napa Valley’s wine grape pickers and growers.
For information or tickets, visit NapaValleyFilmFest.org.