2022 Rochester Labor Film Series
September 2 - October 29
All films shown at the Eastman House Dryden Theater, 900 East Avenue
Friday, September 2, 7:30 p.m.
Made in Bangladesh
(Rubaiyat Hossain, Bangladesh/France/Denmark/Portugal 2021, 95 min., DCP, Bengali w/English subtitles)
Recounting the experience of women garment workers in Bangladesh, the film describes their efforts to form a union that will protect their rights. Inspired by Made in Dagenham (2010), which tells the story of women upholsterers unionizing in a British auto plant, the film testifies to the determination of women to demand respect and dignity in the workplace.
Friday, September 9, 7:30 p.m.
(Traci Curry, Stanley Nelson, US 2021 116 min., DCP)
On September 9, 1971 the prisoners at Attica Correctional Facility, citing systemic abuse and human rights violations, took control of the prison and over thirty hostages. The bulk of the facility's workers were from Attica, NY, which had been a prison town for four decades, while the mainly black and brown inmates were brought in from around the state, dividing the population along racial and cultural lines. The standoff between the prisoners and the police ended four days later in a violent retaking of the prison. This searing new documentary uses rarely seen footage and new interviews with former prisoners and family of the guards to take a new look at the events of that week, especially inmate demands such as ending the convict labor sanctioned under the 13th amendment to the US Constitution.
Friday, September 16, 7:30 p.m.
The Last Laugh
(Der letzte Mann, F.W. Murnau, Germany 1924, 90 min., 35mm)
The enduring masterpiece from director Murnau (Nosferatu, Sunrise) is an artful fusion of evocative German expressionism and gritty social realism. Emil Jannings stars as the stolid doorman of a posh Berlin hotel whose excessive pride, symbolized by an elaborate uniform, crumbles when he’s shunted into semi-retirement as a washroom attendant. Murnau tells the tragic story entirely without intertitles by using intricate tracking shots, grotesque lens distortions, and dynamic shot angles.
Live piano accompaniment by Dr. Philip C. Carli.
Friday, September 23, 7:30 p.m.
(Otac, Srdan Golubovic, Serbia/France/Germany/Slovenia/Croatia/Bosnia and Herzegovina 2020, 120 min., DCP, Serbian w/English subtitles)
Based on a true story in a small town in Serbia, a poor day laborer, Nikola, is denied severance pay from his previous employer and is ordered to give up his two children to social services after his wife commits a desperate act for help. Faced with the likelihood of losing his children to the local corrupt bureaucracy, Nikola sets out on foot over 300 kilometers to make a direct appeal to the national ministry in Belgrade. We can feel every step taken by this father who refuses to give up on justice and his right to raise his children.
Friday, September 30, 7:30 p.m.
(Stewart Bird, Deborah Shaffer, US 1979, 89 min., DCP)
This compelling documentary of the Industrial Workers of the World tells the story of workers in factories, sawmills, wheat fields, forests, mines and on the docks demanding the right to organize as well as better wages, healthcare, overtime pay and safer working conditions. The film mirrors today’s headlines, depicting a nation torn by corporate greed. Filmmakers Deborah Shaffer and Stewart Bird weave archival film footage, interviews with former workers, cartoons, original art, and classic Wobbly songs (many written by Joe Hill) to pay tribute to the legacy of these rebels who risked their lives for many of the rights we have today. Restored by the Museum of Modern Art and recently inducted into the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress, this new version is the best way to see this classic labor film.
Friday, October 7, 7:30 p.m.
(Steven Bognar, Julia Reichert, US 2019, 110 min., DCP)
This film gives a candid account of labor’s plight during ongoing industrial restructuring. In 2014, Chinese billionaire Cao Dewong (AKA "The Chairman") opened a Fuyao auto glass manufacturing plant near Dayton, Ohio, six years after General Motors shuttered its plant there. For the local workforce this represented a new opportunity for regular employment and security. Humorous cultural differences quickly turn into tensions between the Chinese managers and former UAW members and between the new management and U.S. labor laws. Granted liberal access by the owner to record the progress of the new facility, filmmakers Steven Bognar and Julia Reichert (Union Maids, The Last Truck: Closing of a GM Plant) give us an unvarnished view of raw corporate power.
Friday, October 14, 7:30 p.m.
(Tom Cohen, US 1978, 82 min., 16mm)
A documentary about the "American Dream," Family Business focuses on a single family in Muncie, Indiana. Howie Snyder has seemingly done everything right. After serving his country in the US Marine Corps, he returns home to his wife and nine children hoping to start his own business, purchasing a franchise in the Shakey’s Pizza chain. The entire family works hard and invests long hours in the business while trying to stay afloat facing poor receipts and merciless franchise demands. For a family stuck in the middle, there is only one place to turn: each other. One of several films in The Middletown Film Project, inspired by the writings of Robert and Helen Lynd.
Friday, October 21, 7:30 p.m.
The First Wave
(Matthew Heineman, US 2021, 93 min., DCP)
Given remarkable access to a New York City hospital from March to June, 2020, director Matthew Heineman (Cartel Land, A Private War) documents the first four months the COVID-19 pandemic hit the United States. Combining up-close footage of nurses and doctors battling the disease in intensive care and emergency rooms, and interviews with those workers and family members of victims, this truly unforgettable film provides a visceral account of the physical, emotional and social work involved with saving lives and losing lives in such an extraordinary situation. The First Wave shows the world the reality of crisis care from the perspective of those in its midst that will certainly leave a lasting impression.
Saturday, October 29, 7:30 p.m.
Note Special Saturday Screening
(Blerta Basholi, Kosovo/Switzerland/Albania/North Macedonia 2021, 84 min., DCP, Albanian w/English subtitles)
Sundance triple award winner, and Kosovo's official submission for the Academy Awards, Hive is a searing drama based on the true story of Fahrije (Yllka Gashi), who, like many other women in her patriarchal village, lived with poverty and grief since her husband went missing during the 1998-1999 war in Kosovo. Confronting strong local norms and violent acts against women working outside the home, Fahrije pulls other women in her community together to launch a collective making a local condiment. Against the backdrop of Eastern Europe's civil unrest and lingering misogyny, Fahrije and the women of her village join in a struggle to find hope in the face of an uncertain future.