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The dilemma of a young photographer during the Great Depression in the United States: Should he be an observer of his times or act in order to ease his conscience?
1937, Washington. With the United States plunged into a new economic crisis, John Clark, a young journalist, is hired as a photographer-reporter for the Farm Security Administration’s official journal. His first assignment is to document the catastrophic situation of farmers in the “no man’s land” that straddles Oklahoma and Texas. The region’s been nicknamed the Dust Bowl because of the drought and sandstorms that have plagued it for several years. The people who live there have grown accustomed to poverty and hunger, and they’re leaving the region in droves.
The young photographer’s first days there are harsh. Despite the blazing heat and arid land, John nevertheless remains motivated by the prospect of throwing light on the plight of those living in the Dust Bowl. Through his interactions with the locals, John ends up forming a close friendship with Betty. She helps him become aware of the harsh reality all around him, and drives him to question his own work as a photographer.
An intelligent, nuanced take on a landmark era in the United States.