2006 Labor Film Series
All films shown at the Eastman House Dryden Theater,
900 East Avenue.
Friday, September 1, 8 p.m.
WHICH WAY IS UP?
(Michael Schultz, US 1977, 94 min.) The late, great Richard Pryor takes on
three comic roles in this hilarious American remake of Lina Wertmuller’s
political satire, The Seduction of Mimi. Our hero is Leroy Jones (Pryor), a
fruit picker whose accidental union membership, promotion to manager and
romance with a labor organizer puts him at odds with his friends and family.
Pryor also plays Leroy’s dirty old man of a father and the obnoxious Rev.
Friday, September 8, 8 p.m. — Rochester Premiere
SIR! NO SIR!
(David Zeiger, US 2005, 84 min.) This powerful and surprising new
documentary chronicles the largely forgotten anti-war activities of
active-service American GIs and other members of the military during the
Vietnam era. Veterans who participated in the opposition movement and
organized their fellow troops tell their own stories. Sir! No Sir! opens a
little-investigated chapter of history and shows how soldier-workers can
protest unfair and dangerous working conditions.
Friday, September 15, 8 p.m. — Rochester Premiere
ISN’T THIS A TIME! A TRIBUTE CONCERT FOR HAROLD LEVENTHAL
(Jim Brown, US 2004, 90 min.) On Thanksgiving Day, 2003, some of the most
influential talents in American folk music gathered at Carnegie Hall for a
concert to honor Harold Leventhal (1919-2005), their long time supporter and
promoter. Among the artists who performed were Pete Seeger, Leon Bibb,
Theodore Bikel, Peter, Paul and Mary, Arlo Guthrie, and the surviving
members of The Weavers, the only musical act to be blacklisted during the
McCarthy era. A joyous testament to the power of music to overcome
oppression, the songs performed include “Guantanamera,” “City of New
Orleans,” “Where Have All the Flowers Gone,”
and “Sinner Man” — the
Weavers’ tribute to George W. Bush.
Friday, September 22, 8 p.m.
BUBBLE (Steven Soderbergh, US 2005, 72 min.)
One of the best and most overlooked films so far released in 2006 is this spellbinding
account of the triangle that develops around three workers at a doll factory in Southeastern Ohio.
Told entirely with non-professional performers, the story revolves around
the factory’s hiring of Rose (Misty Dawn Wilkins), which subtly disrupts the
friendship between young Kyle (Dustin Ashley) and his heavy-set, middle-aged
co-worker Martha (Debbie Doebereiner). Part neo-realist character study and
part murder mystery, Bubble looks and feels like no other movie out there
and it will have you talking and thinking about it for days.
Friday, September 29, 8 p.m.
LOST IN AMERICA
(Albert Brooks, US 1985, 91 min.) Inspired by the heroes of Easy Rider,
highly paid Los Angeles advertising executive David (co-screenwriter and
director Brooks) and his wife Linda (Julie Hagerty) decide to “drop out” of
society and set out to see the country in a very expensive Winnebago. When
Linda blows the couple’s nestegg in a Las Vegas casino, the couple get the
best jobs they can — crossing guard and fast food assistant manager —
in a small Southwestern town. One of the funniest movies ever made, Brooks’
brilliant satire takes aim at materialistic yuppies in Reagan-era America
and hits the target every time.
Friday, October 6, 8 p.m. — Rochester Premiere
WHO NEEDS SLEEP (Haskell Wexler &
Lisa Leeman, US 2006, 78 min.) In 1997, after working a
typical 19-hour day on a film set, assistant cameraman Brent Hershman fell
asleep behind the wheel, crashed his car, and died. Deeply disturbed by his
colleague’s preventable death, Oscar-winning cinematographer director and
activist Haskell Wexler made this powerful and personal documentary essay on
our quality of life which shows how sleep deprivation and long work hours
are a lethal combination.
Friday, October 13, 8 p.m.
GOIN’ DOWN THE ROAD (Donald Shebib, Canada 1970, 90 min.)
One of the most acclaimed Canadian
features ever made, Shebib’s powerful, realistic drama follows two
uneducated laborers (Doug McGrath and Paul Bradley) from the maritime
provinces who move to Toronto hoping to find high-paying jobs and the sweet
life. Deeply humanistic and observant, it offers us unique insight into the
everyday struggle for survival.
Friday, October 20, 8 p.m.
FIVE EASY PIECES (Bob Rafelson, US 1970, 98 min.) In his first major leading role, Jack
Nicholson is Bobby Dupea, an oil rig worker from a wealthy family of
musicians. When a family emergency summons him home, Bobby is forced to take
a hard look at his past — and his future. One of the key films of the
1970s, this depiction of a society dropout is a study in class and alienation.
Friday, October 27, 8 p.m. — Rochester Premiere
OUR DAILY BREAD (UNSER TÄGLICH BROT) Nikolaus Geyrhalter, Austria 2005, 92 min.)
Without dialog and using pristinely photographed images right out of a chilling science-fiction
movie, this fascinating new visual essay examines how food is mass-produced
in the contemporary world. Detailing the industrial harvesting of fruits and
vegetables as well as the breeding and slaughter of animals, director
Geyrhalter reveals a sometimes shocking, dehumanized vision worthy of
Stanley Kubrick. Our Daily Bread may forever change your ideas of how food
gets to your table.
WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 18 8 p.m.
CRANE WORLD (MUNDO GRÚA) (Pablo Trapero, Argentina. 1999, 90 min., Spanish with subtitles). In another brilliant debut feature, Trapero follows the trials and tribulations of unemployed single father Rulo (Luis Margani). Just when Rulo gets his relationship with his son and his love life back on track, his world is turned upside down again when a construction job is offered far away in Patagonia. This quietly heartbreaking story of a common man has the power of the great Italian neorealist classics.
FRIDAY, JUNE 16 8 p.m. Rochester Premiere
THE WORLD (SHIJIE) (Jia Zhangke, China 2004, 139 min., Mandarin, Shanxi and Russian with subtitles). Like the exposes of working conditions in Disney-land and Epcot Center, this film reveals the experiences of the workers — dancers, tour guides, security guards, construction workers — at The World, an actual Chinese theme park which replicates sites and monuments ranging from the Taj Mahal and Angkor Wat to the Eiffel Tower, the Leaning Tower of Pisa and the twin towers of the World Trade Center. The contrast between the workers’ confined lives, their hopes and fantasies, and the illusory premise of the park (“See the world without ever leaving Beijing” ) underlies The World’s commentary on globalization and alienation.