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Film still The Navigators movie

SEE Rochester: A  Community of Workers  Photo Exhibit

machinist at work

2008 Labor Film Series

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


Fall Program

Friday, September 5, 8:00 p.m. — Rochester Premiere
(Jim Brown, US 2007, 93 min.) This engaging documentary traces the life of folk icon Pete Seeger, emphasizing his lifelong belief in the power of music as both a social and a political force. Director Brown utilizes contemporary footage of Seeger and his wife, Toshi, along with newly remastered recordings of Seeger’s songs, and interviews with Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, and others.

Friday, September 12, 8:00 p.m. — Rochester Premiere. John Gianvito in Person!
(John Gianvito, US 2007, 58 min.) Using Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States as a basis, filmmaker Gianvito crafts an elegant and elegiac chronicle of the progressive movement in America by visiting cemeteries, plaques, and monuments. Told without narration, Gianvito pays homage to those who fought for their beliefs and who have been forgotten by popular history. The film-maker will discuss his work following the screening.

Preceded by THE INTERNATIONALE (Peter Miller, US 2000, 30 min.) Pete Seeger and Billy Bragg help tell the story of the legendary song that became the anthem for international socialism.

Friday, September 19, 8:00 p.m.
(a.k.a. SALT TO THE DEVIL and GIVE US THIS DAY, Edward Dmytryk, UK1949, 120 min.) Italian immigrant Germenio (blacklisted American actor Sam Wanamaker), exploits his fellow workers in dangerous construction work in order to provide for his own family. Set in NYC’s Little Italy (but shot entirely in England!), this compelling working class drama was the only film made by director Dmytryk after he refused to testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee and before he became a “friendly” witness.

Friday, September 26, 8:00 p.m.
Sunday, September 28 4:30 p.m. — New 35mm print!

(Charles Chaplin, US 1947, 123 min.) Leaving the Little Tramp behind, Charles Chaplin plays a soft-spoken French gentleman who supports his children and crippled wife by marrying rich widows and killing them. Chaplin’s theme — that if war is the logical extension of diplomacy, then murder is the logical extension of business — is delivered in a series of darkly hilarious and elegantly staged comic sequences, culminating in another of the director’s poignant conclusions. Almost unanimously vilified upon its original release, it today takes its rightful place among Chaplin’s masterpieces.

Friday, October 3, 8:00 p.m. — Rochester Premiere
(LES FEMMES DE LA BRUKMAN, Isaac Isitan, Canada 2008,90 min., Spanish with subtitles) Argentina’s “fabrica ocupanda” phenomenon, where workers run abandoned factories where they had previously been employed, is explored in this rousing documentary about what happened at one specific suit manufacturer. The group of women who took over the Brukman factory have become international symbols for workers, standing as an inspiring solution to daunting economic challenges.

Friday, October 10, 8:00 p.m. — Rochester Premiere
(STRAJK — DIE HELDIN VON DANZIG, Volker Schlöndorff, Germany/Poland 2006, 104 min., Polish with subtitles) The latest film from the director of The Tin Drum tells the true story of an ordinary woman who helped spark a revolution in Poland. Shipyard welder Agnieszka (Katharina Thalbach), concerned about dangerous working conditions, speaks up to no avail. After an accident kills several employees and their families are denied pension benefits, she steps up her activities, becoming a union leader and powerful adviser to Lech Walesa, laying the foundation for the Solidarity movement.

Friday, October 17, 8:00 p.m.
(OTOSHIANA, Hiroshi Teshigahara, Japan 1962, 97 min., Japanese with subtitles) When a miner leaves his employers and treks out with his young son to become a migrant worker, he finds himself moving from one eerie landscape to another, intermittently followed (and photographed) by an enigmatic man in a clean white suit, and eventually coming face to face with his inescapable destiny. Teshigahara’s (Woman in the Dunes, Antonio Gaudi) debut feature and first collaboration with novelist Kobo Abe, Pitfall is an unsettling ghost story, a portrait of human alienation, and a compellingly surreal critique of soulless industry.

Friday, October 24 — Pre-Code Double Feature! Two films for one regular admission price
7:00 p.m.
(William Wellman, US 1933, 73 min.) One of the most thrilling pre-code melodramas, Heroes for Sale follows working class hero Richard Barthelmess as he survives serious injury in WWI, overcomes a morphine addiction, faces unemployment, finds love (with Loretta Young) and a steady job, and tries to stop a vicious strike mob ̬ and that’s just in the first half!

8:30 p.m.
(Roy Del Ruth, USA 1932, 69 min.) Taxi driver James Cagney rallies his fellow cabbies in a fight against the monolithic company that threatens to ruin their independent drive to make a living. Look for Cagney’s first on-screen dance number in a scene with Loretta Young and up-and-comer George Raft.

Friday, October 31, 8:00 p.m. — Halloween Special
(George A. Romero, US 2005, 93 min.) The fourth and most politically savvy of Romero’s gory and satirical cycle of flesh-eating zombie movies shows us a world almost completely taken over by the ghouls. A group of rich Americans (led by Dennis Hopper) have protected themselves from the living dead in a heavily guarded luxury high-rise. Outside, other survivors with presumably less money scavenge for the wealthy amidst the zombie population, which is becoming increasingly intelligent and organized.


Special Screenings

Friday, February 22, 8:00 p.m.
KILLER OF SHEEP (Charles Burnett, US 1977, 83 min., 35mm). The life of a working class family affected by unemployment in the Watts district of Los Angeles is poetically evoked by writer/director Burnett in his feature debut. A landmark in American independent filmmaking, Burnett’s lyrical, elliptical style is marked by a frequently perfect matching of music to his haunting images. One of the first films elected to the Library of Congress’ National Film Registry, Killer of Sheep was recently preserved on 35mm by the UCLA Film & Television archive.

Friday, April 28 8:00 p.m.
(Michael Glawogger, Austria 2005, 122 min.) Screening this documentary on Workers Memorial Day fittingly commemorates the significance of heavy manual labor and its cost in human life. The film’s segments on Ukrainian coal miners, Indonesian sulphur miners, Nigerian slaughterhouse workers, Pakistani shipbreakers, and Chinese steel workers, like the photographs of Sebastiano Salgado, both celebrate and lament the labor it depicts.

Friday, June 20, 8:00 p.m.   New 35mm print!
THE ORGANIZER (I COMPAGNI, Mario Monicelli, Italy 1963, 126 min., Italian with subtitles).Marcello Mastroianni stars as a socialist labor organizer in turn-of-the-century Turin who helps textile workers fight for better working conditions. From the director of Big Deal on Madonna Street, “this is one of the great Italian films of the 60s, it cries out for rediscovery.” (Jonathan Rosenbaum, Chicago Reader) Co-presented by the Rochester Labor Council.



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