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2023 Rochester Labor Film Series

September 1 - October 28

All films shown at the Eastman House Dryden Theater, 900 East Avenue


Friday, September 1, 7:30 p.m.

(Akira Kurosawa, Japan 1952, 143 min., 35mm, Japanese w/English subtitles)
Often overlooked amidst his samurai films and historic epics, Kurosawa’s humanist films of the 1940s and ‘50s remain among his best, and Ikiru is his very finest. Asked about the film, Kurosawa remarked, “Sometimes I think about my own death. And when I do, I also think I’m not ready to die. there are still so many things left to do. When I get this feeling, I just ache. Out of these feelings came Ikiru.” Frequent Kurosawa cast member Takashi Shimura stars as Kanji Watanabe, a bureaucrat as good as dead while living, who suddenly struggles hard to live once he learns he is dying. He finds a ray of hope in one last act of kindness through his work that will stand as his legacy. A film about work-life tension as much as it is about how we will be remembered when we die, Ikiru remains an all-time classic of world cinema.

Friday, September 8, 7:30 p.m. Rochester Premiere
(Abigail Disney and Kathleen Hughes, US 2022, 87 min., DCP)
“Don’t let Mickey Mouse become a rat.” Dorothy Parker’s slogan from the 1941 strike by Disney animators applies to the ongoing struggle of Disney’s cast and crew workers for increased wages who say, “Magic Doesn’t Pay the Bills.” With 220,000 employees, $82 billion in revenue and gross profits of over $28 billion, the Disney Company refuses to pay its workers a living wage and recently laid off 7,000 of them to cut costs. Co-director and narrator Abigail Disney is the great-niece of Walt Disney and grand-daughter of his brother Roy.

Friday, September 15, 7:30 p.m. Rochester Premiere
(Mi país imaginario, Patricio Guzmán, France/Chile 2022, 83 min., DCP, Spanish w/subtitles)
1.5 million Chileans revolted in 2019 against the constitution, injustices and privatized pension system imposed during the Pinochet dictatorship. Filmmaker Guzmán, who had documented the CIA-inspired coup that deposed Salvador Allende’s socialist government (The Battle of Chile) returned to his country to record this struggle, told through interviews with women participants: “There are flames that consume and flames that nourish.” (This screening commemorates 50 years of hemispheric solidarity on the part of the Rochester Committee on Latin America, a long-time sponsor of the Labor Film Series.)

Friday, September 22, 7:30 p.m.

((Michael Curtiz, US, 1933, 60 min., 35mm)
“I treat men the exact way they’ve always treated women.” That is the formula for success in both business and intimacy proudly declared by Alison Drake (Ruth Chatterton), a woman who skillfully takes over command of her father’s auto manufacturing company in this pre-code gem, and male underlings beware! Among the earliest  film depictions of a woman CEO, this tale of role-reversal zeroes in on the relation between power and gender at work that women executives continue to face ninety years later. An adaptation of D.H. Clarke‘s novel of the same name declared obscene in 1935 by the New York Supreme court, Female adds to the long list of film successes by director Michael Curtiz including Casablanca, Black Fury, and Mildred Pierce.

Friday, September 29, 7:30 p.m.

(David Siev, US, 2022, 100 min., DCP)
In 2020, filmmaker David Siev returned with a camera to his rural hometown of Bad Axe, Michigan to be with his parents and sisters during the Covid-19 lockdown.  The result is this award-winning intimate documentary of his multi-racial family’s struggles to sustain their “classy casual” restaurant and remain safe during the pandemic, anti-Asian hatred and local backlash for their support of Black Lives Matter. Headed by a Mexican-American mother and a Cambodian father who escaped the Khmer Rouge, the Siev family experienced the fragility of the American dream in the time of Trump.

Friday, October 6, 7:30 p.m.

(Marcel Bluwal, France 1963, 88 min., 16mm, Dubbed in English)
French farce takes on the working world as Jean-Claude Brialy plays an ambitious young executive, Paul Martin, at a travel agency on the Champs-Élysées. Paul has done everything right to advance his career, including proposing to the boss’s daughter. But when he discovers that he may not be chosen for promotion, he plans to murder one of the executives above him. The situation continues to slip out of his control and more bodies start dropping. The set design highlights the challenge of upward advancement in the company’s modern, glass-filled structure.

Friday, October 13, 7:30 p.m.

(Sushmit Ghosh, Rintu  omas, India 2021, 92 min., DCP, Hindi w/English subtitles)
Reporting from a society divided by caste and gender, a fearless group of women journalists all from the Dalit (“untouchables”) Geneseo Chapter UUP AFL-CIO caste, maintain India’s only women-led news outlet, Khabar Lahariya (“Waves of News”). Armed with smartphones, Chief Reporter Meera and her team of investigative journalists confront two of India’s biggest issues: discrimination against women and the oppressive caste system. Writing With Fire chronicles the astonishing determination of these local reporters as they empower each other and hold those responsible for injustice to account. Nominated for Best Documentary Feature at the 2022 Academy Awards.

Friday, October 20, 7:30 p.m. Rochester Premiere

(Ken Loach, UK 2013, 94 min., DCP)
This recently released documentary combines film from Britain’s regional and national archives with sound recordings and contemporary interviews to create a narrative intended both to extoll the virtues of post-war socialist policies in Britain and to warn against neoliberal rejection of them. As Ken Loach notes, “Today, the market penetrates everywhere. It's time to put back on the agenda the importance of public ownership and public good, the value of working together collaboratively, not in competition.”

Saturday, October 28, 7:30 p.m. Note Special Saturday Screening

(Oliver Hermanus, UK 2022, 102 min., DCP)
Kazuo Ishiguro, the Nobel Prize-winning author of The Remains of the Day, adapted the original screenplay for Ikiru, transposing it to 1953 London. Bill Nighy plays Rodney Williams, a remote bureaucrat who plugs away at his job without an extraneous or divergent thought. When he receives a terminal diagnosis, he begins thinking more about death, and through the process, more about life: he adopts a community project to champion and guides it through the bureaucracy. Both Nighy (memorable for his coal miner role in Pride) and Ishiguro were nominated for Academy Awards for their work on the film.


2023 Labor Films

Past Film Series Schedules

2022 Labor Film Series
2021 Labor Film Series
2020 Labor Film Series
2019 Labor Film Series
2018 Labor Film Series
2017 Labor Film Series
2016 Labor Film Series
2015 Labor Film Series
2014 Labor Film Series
2013 Labor Film Series
2012 Labor Film Series
2011 Labor Film Series
2010 Labor Film Series
2009 Labor Film Series
2008 Labor Film Series
2007 Labor Film Series
2006 Labor Film Series
2005 Labor Film Series
2004 Labor Film Series
2003 Labor Film Series
2002 Labor Film Series
2001 Labor Film Series
2000 Labor Film Series
1999 Labor Film Series
1998 Labor Film Series
1997 Labor Film Series
1996 Labor Film Series
1995 Labor Film Series
1994 Labor Film Series
1993 Labor Film Series
1992 Labor Film Series
1990-91 Labor Film Series
1989 Labor Film Series