2001 Labor Film Series
All films shown at the Eastman House Dryden Theater, 900 East Avenue
FRIDAY, 5 October. 8 p.m.
BREAD AND ROSES (Ken Loach, US 2000, 110 min.) Maverick British filmmaker Ken Loach’s first American production, as entertaining as it is thought-provoking, retains his impassioned interest in social justice and ironical wit. Loach personalizes the plight of countless invisible service workers through the struggle of Rosa and her fellow office cleaners to gain dignity and respect on the job. Though the story is fictional it is based on a real campaign by Los Angeles janitors, organized by SEIU, to win recognition and a contract. A true workingpeople’s film, about and for folks not usually shown in movies, Bread and Roses has received acclaim and awards at major film festivals.
FRIDAY, 12 October. 8 p.m. Rochester Premiere
THIS IS WHAT DEMOCRACY LOOKS LIKE. (Jill Freidberg and Rick Rowley, US 2000, 72 min.) The music of Rage Against the Machine and Cypher Ad propels this electric documentary, shot with over 100 cameras carried by protesters during the turbulent 1999 WTO (World Trade Organization) anti- globalization marches by Seattle’s labor and activist community. Susan Sarandon and Michael Franti provide the narration as the film jump cuts its way through the week of the WTO summit, while tension builds and the Seattle mayor and police grow edgy. Soon demonstrators are being gassed, assaulted and arrested as this peaceful assemblage turns into a melee. Praised by Variety for its “visually frenetic approach” that avoids MTV-overkill, Democracy is one of the most powerful political films in years, presenting a struggle that continues and intensifies: Quebec, Goteborg, Genoa, Washington, D.C.
FRIDAY, 19 October. 8 p.m. Rochester Premiere
SECRETS OF SILICON VALLEY. (Alan Snitow and Deborah Kaufman, US 2001, 60 min.) This provocative film reveals the troubling side-effects of our high-tech internet economy, documenting a year in the lives of Raj, a temp worker who assembles and packages Hewlett-Packard printers and Magda, who directs a nonprofit computer training center. An activist, Raj tries to organize fellow workers around health and pay issues; Magda, her center evicted to make way for a shopping mall, fights to reopen it. Shot on a shoestring, Secrets has been playing to sold-out theatres in the Bay Area and elsewhere. Come see why!
FRIDAY, 26 October. 8 p.m.
LIVE NUDE GIRLS UNITE! (Vicki Funari and Julia Query, US 2000, 75 min.) This challenging and funny film documents the efforts of a group of Bay Area strippers to form the first union of exotic dancers in the U.S. While they provide diversion to customers, these sex workers are workers like any others and confront problems faced by most workers without contracts: long shifts in unsafe workplaces, no job security, unable to take sick days without fear of termination, etc. Fed up with these conditions, Query picks up her camera, organizes her sisters, and documents their ensuing strike and her eventual sojourn across the country organizing nude dancers everywhere. Her footage, filmed on and off-stage with candor and edited by Funari, is both a poignant and a cheer-inducing saga of worker empowerment.
FRIDAY, 2 November. 8 p.m.
KAMERADSCHAFT. (G. W.Pabst, Germany/France, 1931, 80 min., in French and German with English subtitles) The French-German border established at the end of World War I divides a coal mining community in two. When a cave-in traps a group of French miners, the German miners form a rescue party despite past political and ethnic divisions. Based on a true story this classic film by director Pabst (Pandora’s Box, The Joyless Street) in a moving plea for and celebration of worker solidarity and a common humanity that transcends national boundaries. The title literally translates as “comradeship.”
FRIDAY, 9 November. 8 p.m. Rochester Premiere
HUMAN RESOURCES (RESSOURCES HUMAINES, Laurent Cantet, France 1999, 103 min. French with English subtitles) Franck, a young business school graduate, becomes an executive-in-training at the same metal fixtures factory where his blue-collar father has worked for 30 years. As he quickly begins to climb the corporate ladder he becomes more and more distanced from the father who made hard sacrifices for his future. A survey Franck develops becomes a management tool used to fire workers, including his father, and the ensuing strike forces the young man to take sides or quit. In evoking contradictions between labor and management, the film successfully expands class differences from the realm of the workplace to that of the household.
FRIDAY, 16 November. 8 p.m.
OUR DAILY BREAD (King Vidor, US 1934, 80 min.) Vidor’s independently financed and produced labor of love is a Depression-era fable about a young couple who, fed up with the Big City, homestead on an abandoned farm. A series of uprooted workers join them, bringing diverse and necessary skills and accidentally becoming a utopian cooperative community. Together they pitch in to overcome the problems of strife, hunger and unemployment. With cinematography that is often strikingly poetic, the film’s and Vidor’s generous sensibilities and ideals are brought to life. The extended climactic construction of an irrigation system is a highlight, deservedly well-known for its thrilling use of rhythmic editing.
FRIDAY, 23 November. 8 p.m.
HOSPITAL (Frederick Wiseman, US 1970, 110 min.) Wiseman, master documentary filmmaker and incisive chronicler of American institutions (Titicut Follies, High School), dissects New York’s Metropolitan Hospital on his examination table in this look at the day-to-day activities of health-care service. Focusing on the emergency ward and outpatient clinics, the movie deftly invites us to consider the inner workings of a major urban hospital—organization, resource availability, staff communication, and patient treatment—all of which bear the stamp of modern bureaucratic inefficiencies and dehumanization. And this was before HMOs and managed care!
FRIDAY, 30 November. 8 p.m.
BRASSED OFF (Mark Herman, UK 1996, 103 min.) In this British working- class comedy/drama, a group of Yorkshire coal miners in the small town of Grimley are laid off when the mines are closed as a result of Thatcher’s policies, a turn of events that also threatens their all-male brass ensemble. Further complicating the band’s preparation for a national competition, Gloria—a former Grimley resident, fine flugelhorn player and now government worker’returns and wishes to join the band. Strong performances by a cast that includes Ewan McGregor as the band’s lead trumpet and Pete Postlethwaite as the conductor enable the film to show both the suffering inflicted on the workers and the role culture plays in working class endurance.