2002 Labor Film Series
All films shown at the Eastman House Dryden Theater, 900 East Avenue
FRIDAY, 4 October. 8 p.m. — Rochester Premiere
THE WAY WE LAUGHED (COSÌ RIDEVANO) (Gianni Amelio, Italy 1998, 124 min. Italian with English subtitles). From one of Italy’s most important filmmakers comes this elegant chronicle of two Sicilian brothers. Giovanni, an unschooled laborer, arrives in Turin to find that he must support his younger sibling Pietro. This personal epic’s subtle structure presents six days from the period 1958 to 1964. The movie is remarkable for its rendering of an Italy amid socioeconomic transformation.
FRIDAY, 11 October. 8 p.m.
SALESMAN (Albert Maysles/David Maysles/Charlotte Zwerin, US 1969, 91 min.) A landmark American documentary from renowned filmmakers, the Maysles brothers (Gimme Shelter) Salesman marks a high point in 1960’s cinema vérité. An aging Bible salesman, Paul Brennan, is followed from door-to-door, through struggles with sales quotas and the somber desperation and frustrations of constant travel. (“The greatest piece of literature of all time ... the Bible runs as little as $4.95 and we have three plans on it. Cash. C.O.D. And a little Catholic honor plan.“ As a study of business and religion, materialism and spirituality, few nonfiction movies speak with such sensitivity and subtle beauty.
FRIDAY, 18 October. 8 p.m. — Rochester Premiere
BUS RIDERS UNION (Haskell Wexler/Johanna Demetrakas, US 2000, 86 min.) An urgent and rousing film from the cinematographer of Matewan and Bound for Glory. The documentary follows three years in the lives of activists who launch a grassroots movement to organize Los Angeles bus riders against city officials and the Metropolitan Transit Authority. The activists see the MTA’s policies (cutting city bus service while building subways to the suburbs) as racist and environmentally hazardous. Their campaign is as inspiring, funny and dramatic as Erin Brockovich.
FRIDAY, 25 October. 8 p.m.
BLACK GIRL (LA NOIRE DE...) (Ousmane Sembene, France/Senegal 1966, 65 min. French and Senegalese, with English subtitles. New 35 mm print) One of cinema’s landmark works, Black Girl is the first sub-Saharan feature-length film to be widely seen by Western audiences. The story follows a young Senegalese girl who moves to France to become the maid of a wealthy family for whom she had once worked. The father of African cinema, Sembene deftly explores the themes of colonialism and exploitation in this powerful movie. ALSO, GINA, AN ACTRESS, AGE 29 (Paul Harrill, US 2001, 23 min.) A young woman takes on a curious job in “show business.”
FRIDAY, 1 November. 7 p.m. — Rochester Premiere
AMERICAN STANDOFF (Kristi Jacobson, US 2002, 95 min.) A protege of Barbara Kopple (Harlan County USA, American Dream) Kristi Jacobson spent two years documenting the still unresolved conflict between the Teamsters Union and non-union Overnite Transportation. In 1999, five years after joining the union and after 166 bargaining sessions, Overnite workers still had no contract and the Teamsters launched a nationwide strike. With unlimited access, Jacobson followed the strike from its early picket lines to its widening impact on workers and their families as it stretched into months and then years. In her first feature documentary, this new filmmaker bears witness to the sacrifices made by American workers as they struggle for their rights and dignity.
FRIDAY, 8 November. 8 p.m.
OFFICE SPACE (Mike Judge, US 1999, 89 min.) Written and directed by the creator of Beavis & Butthead and King of the Hill, this smart and biting satire of claustrophobic life in corporate America (think Dilbert meets 9 to 5 meets Blue Collar) follows a jaded young paper pusher (Ron Livingston) who seeks revenge on his company. Already regarded as a minor comedy classic, it’s even funnier with an enthusiastic (and anti-corporate) audience. The spirited cast also features Jennifer Aniston, Gary Cole and Stephen Root.
FRIDAY, 15 November. 8 p.m. — Rochester Premieres
STRUGGLE IN SMUGTOWN: ROCHESTER’S WORKERS, RADICALS AND REFORMERS (Linda Donahue/Jon Garlock/Rob MacGowan, US 2002, 45 min.) Produced by a collaborative of local labor activists and educators, this film begins to tell the story of Rochester’s working people: their work, their unions, their struggles for social justice. Rich in information, it reveals a hidden story important to our understanding of both past and present. On the big screen for the first time, this is a must-see for union members and their families, friends of labor, community activists, and students. ALSO, OCCUPATION (Maple Razsa and Pacho Velez, US 2002, 55 min.) This film documents last year’s 21-day sit-in which won a living wage for Harvard’s janitors, guards and dining hall employees – many of them immigrant workers. Assembled from student footage, archival sources, news coverage and interviews with low-wage workers, Occupation offers evidence that coalitions of students, labor unions and community groups can take on and defeat powerful corporations. Narrated by Ben Affleck.
FRIDAY, 22 November. 8 p.m. — Rochester Premiere
LA CIUDAD (David Riker, US 1998, 88 min. In English and Spanish with English subtitles) This haunting and poignant story of immigrants trying to survive in New York City was developed by director Riker during acting workshops with actual refugees. La Ciudad is a series of four vignettes that follows the lives of immigrant Latino workers and their families as they confront the confusion and alienation of their new life in a strange land.
FRIDAY, 29 November. 8 p.m.
GLENGARRY, GLEN ROSS (James Foley, US 1992, 100 min.) David Mamet’s scathing indictment of the world of real estate and 80’s greed was brought to vivid life in this gripping film adaptation. Al Pacino, Jack Lemmon, Ed Harris and Kevin Spacey all give blistering performances as cutthroat salesmen who pull out all the stops in order to win a company sales competition. First prize is a Cadillac. Second prize is a set of steak knives. Third prize is you’re fired!