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Film still The Navigators movie

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2009 Labor Film Series

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


Fall Program

Friday, September 4, 8:00 p.m. — Rochester Premiere
(Kiyoshi Kurosawa, Japan 2008, 119 min., Japanese with subtitles) Laid off from his white collar job, Ryuhei (Teruyuki Kagawa) hides his unemployment from his family and spends his days with other out-of-work men before finding menial work. Meanwhile his youngest son secretly skips school to take piano lessons and quickly develops into a prodigy. Tokyo Sonata is an unusually unpredictable study of a dysfunctional family in a time of economic chaos.

Friday, September 11, 8:00 p.m. — Rochester Premiere
(Scott Hamilton Kennedy, US 2008, 84 min.) In this Oscar-nominee for Best Documentary, working-class Latino families struggle to protect their South Central LA community garden from real estate developers. A lightning rod for controversy in 2004, this struggle drew the support of many notable activists and politicians, including Dennis Kucinich, Joan Baez and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.

Preceded by NEVER TURNING BACK: THE WORLD OF PEGGY LIPSHUTZ (Jerri Zbiral, US 2008, 20 min.) For half a century 90-year-old artist, activist and Chicago institution Lipschutz has made chalk talks “songs you can see”) about labor and social justice struggles, collaborating with Pete Seeger, Studs Terkel, Holly Near and many others.

Friday, September 18, 8:00 p.m. — Rochester Premiere
(Silvio Soldini, Italy 2007, 115 min., Italian with subtitles) In Genoa a sophisticated, upper-middle class Elsa and Michele (Margherita Buy and Antonio Albanese) struggle to stay afloat when Michele loses his job. While the fear of financial ruin threatens to tear them apart, the couple take on unsatisfying jobs that lead them towards rediscovery of themselves and each other. “A brave film simply for daring to portray a nightmare lurking in the minds of middle-aged workers.” (Stephen Holden, The New York Times)

Friday, September 25, 8:00 p.m.
(John Ford, US 1941, 118 min.) Director Ford’s nostalgic drama traces the lives of the Morgan clan, a hardworking Welsh coal-mining family determined to stay together as they overcome hardship and tragedy in a rapidly modernizing world. Maureen O’Hara, Donald Crisp, Walter Pidgeon, and young Roddy McDowell star in this classic film that received a total of six Academy Awards, beating Citizen Kane for the Best Picture Oscar.

Friday, October 2, 8:00 p.m. — Rochester Premiere
(César Charlone & Enrique Fernández, Uruguay 2007, 95 min., Spanish/subtitles). Anticipating a 1988 visit by John Paul II, “Popemania” grips a small, impoverished Uruguayan town on the border with Brazil. Expecting thousands of Brazilians to pour into their village, Beto, our penniless hero, decides to build a pay toilet in his yard, an enterprise that requires more than a bit of ingenuity, and blind optimism. Former cinematographer César Charlone (City of God) co-directs a thoughtful and frequently funny study of desperate capitalism.

Friday, October 9, 8:00 p.m. — Rochester Premiere
24 CITY (Jia Zhangke)
(China 2008, 112 min., Mandarin with subtitles) The latest from acclaimed mainland Chinese director Jia Zhangke (The World) is a masterful study of a formerly top-secret aircraft plant in Chengdu City, Sichuan, that is slated to be demolished and converted into 24 City, a luxury housing complex. Jia offers an oral history of the plant in a series of compelling monologues, some of them delivered by actual workers, others by professional actors (like Joan Chen) representing the over 20,000 displaced workers.

Friday, October 16, 8:00 p.m. — Rochester Premiere
(Heddy Honigmann, The Netherlands 2008, 93 min., Spanish/subtitles) The working class people of Lima, Peru — bartenders, street entertainers, shopkeepers — are the affectionate subjects of this moving documentary that shows how many of the city’s poorest citizens have survived decades of economic crises, political corruption, and denial of worker’s rights. Born in Lima, Dutch filmmaker Honigman (Forever) offers interviews of these resourceful Peruvians, who have resisted being consigned to oblivion.

Friday, October 23, 7:00 p.m. — Pre-Code Double Feature! Two films for one regular admission price
(Elliot Nugent, US 1933, 77 min.) Perhaps the first genuine “screwball comedy,” Three-Cornered Moon shows what happens when a previously well-off family (including daughter Claudette Colbert) faces the depression and are forced to (gasp) work!

MILLS OF THE GODS, 8:30 p.m. (Roy William Neill, US 1934, 66 min.) Plow factory owner and matriarch May Robson finds that her trust fund kids just don’t give a darn as her business goes bust. As rioting workers battle police, her granddaughter (Fay Wray) finds solidarity and love with a union leader (Victor Jory).

Friday, October 30, 8:00 p.m.
(Rashid Masharawi, Palestine 2008, 75 min., Arabic with subtitles) A former Palestinian judge (the excellent Mohamed Bakri) is forced to make a living working as a taxi driver in occupied Ramallah when the government runs out of funds to pay his salary. On his daughter’ seventh birthday, the judge faces all kinds of obstacles on his simple mission to bring home a cake and presents. Wonderfully compelling and eye-opening in its episodic storytelling, Laila’s Birthday reveals the frustrating daily existence for an average, politically moderate citizen of Palestine.


Special Screening

Friday, May 1, 8 pm Alex Rivera in person! Rochester Premiere
SLEEP DEALER (Alex Rivera, US 2008, 90 min., English and Spanish with subtitles). The film imagines a near future of airtight international borders and militarized corporate warriors — a world dreamed of by US employers: Mexican labor without immigrant Mexican workers. Jobs ranging from construction to the service sector are performed by robots manipulated by “cybraceros,” workers literally plugged into the global economy. Writer-director Rivera’s prescient and socially-committed work of sci-fi won two prizes at the Sundance Film Festival. Rivera will introduce and answer questions following the screening.



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