Produced by Sherien Barsoum and directed by Andrew Moir, Babe, I Hate To Go tells the story of Delroy Dunkley, a migrant worker who has spent half his life working in the Ontario tobacco belt to support his family in Jamaica. Goodbyes have become ritual but Delroy harbours a secret—he has cancer. Though his health declines, Delroy continue to work while shielding his family from the inevitable. A story of acceptance and perseverance, Babe, I Hate to Go is an intimate, observational documentary about a man coming to terms with his mortality.
Delroy’s journey is not only a powerful reminder of the poverty we do not allow ourselves to see but also a testament to the courage of a man facing the potential end of his life. We see Delroy struggle with the reality of cancer—“I don’t feel like I have it,” he denies—and witness his inner turmoil as he wrestles with whether or not to tell his family.
In many ways, however, the most striking aspect of Moir’s short doc is its inconclusive ending. By leaving the story unresolved, Moir draws attention to the fact that life simply continues on. There is no paid vacation coming for Delroy. Rather, despite his medical issues, Delroy intends to continue toiling in the farm in order to support his family. After 30 years, his life is work and work is his life. He recognizes that he still needs to sacrifice in order to see his family survive.
As a result, the term ‘injustice’ takes on multiple meanings in this film. While we mourn at the poverty in which Delroy’s family lives back home, we are also moved by the very question of ‘why bad things happen to good people’. Regardless of his circumstances, Delroy shows himself to be a man worthy of respect as he fights for his distant family. (Incidentally, as a pastor, I may recognize the brokenness of our world, but even I struggle for answers in this area.)
In the end, Delroy’s journey offers mixed emotions, ranging from deep sadness to encouragement. While brief, Babe, I Hate to Go has much to say about the struggles of the migrant worker and the realities of life, death and family. It is a poignant piece that focuses on the challenges of poverty that are hidden in plain sight.
Babe, I Hate to Go is next screening with Motel at Innis Town Hall on Saturday, May 6th at 8:30pm.