1999 Labor Film Series
All films shown at the Eastman House Dryden Theater, 900 East Avenue
Friday, October 1
1900 (NOVECENTO) (Bernardo Bertolucci, Italy/France/Germany, 1977, 243 min.) Bertolucci’s pro-Marxist epic presents the historic struggle between landowners and peasants in turn-of-the-century Italy. At times a flag-waving defense of socialism, at other times a condemnation of greed, 1900 remains a powerfully presented, controversial, and near-mythic indictment of capitalism. Come to our Labor Series kickoff Pizza Social from 6 to 7 p.m., immediately followed by a screening of this important film. Please note earlier starting time.
Friday, October 8
I AM A FUGITIVE FROM A CHAIN GANG (Mervyn LeRoy, US 1933, 90 min.) Following his fiery debut in Scarface, Paul Muni returns to the screen in this unflinching adaptation of a true story of life on a Georgia chain gang. In the wrong place at the wrong time, James Allen (Muni), a WWI vet down on his luck during the Depression, is sentenced to hard labor, where he struggles to maintain his hope and dignity while fettered with the hellish grind of prison life.
Friday, October 15 Rochester Premiere
AMERICAN JOB (Chris Smith. US 1995, 95 min.)
FAST FOOD WOMEN (Anne Lewis Johnson, US 1992, 38 min.video) Because of factory closings and the movement of traditional industrial jobs overseas, workers employed in the so-called “service sector” now represent the largest and most rapidly expanding labor force in the United States. Their jobs, however, are often temporary, part-time, and extremely low-paying. Unionization is almost nonexistent, and benefits are few and far between. In American Job, a young man learns that his modest wish to find any type of satisfying work is too much to expect in the 1990s. Combining documentary techniques with wry humor this fictional film accurately portrays the degradation and sheer monotony of work in contemporary America. Fast Food Women documents the exploitation of women in the coal towns of Eastern Kentucky who must attempt to support themselves and their families solely on the substandard McWages they are paid.
Friday, October 22
THIS SPORTING LIFE (Lindsay Anderson, UK 1963, 129 min.) Anderson’s first feature film, based on a novel by David Story, is a powerful tale of an ex-coal miner turned professional rugby player (passionately played by Richard Harris). The film examines the tempestuous romantic relationship between Harris and Rachel Roberts (who were both nominated for Oscars). More importantly, the film explores the relationship between the rugby players and the team’s owners. An auspicious debut by one of England’s most important directors.
Friday, November 5
FREEDOM FOR US (A NOUS LA LIBERTÉ) (René Clair. France 1931, 104 min.) Clair blends farce, drama, and satire in his singular style which strongly influenced Chaplin, especially his Modern Times, and the work of the Marx Brothers. Here, two prisoners attempt escape; one is immediately captured, while the other escapes to the city and gains employment selling gramophones for a major industrialist. Soon he climbs the corporate ranks, but greed takes hold and his plant more and more resembles the prison he fled. When his former fellow inmate is legitimately liberated, he heads to the factory and calls on his old friend for a job. Working in the plant he falls for a female co-worker but is flatly rejected. Meanwhile, there’s trouble for his successful friend, who’s spotted by the authorities as a fugitive. Soon both men find themselves on the lam, penniless, but free and happy.
Friday, November 12
DOCUMENTARY IN 1930S BRITAIN: FILMS OF THE E.M.B. AND THE G.P.O. DRIFTERS (John Grierson, UK 1929, 49 min; silent with piano accompaniment by Philip C. Carli); INDUSTRIAL BRITAIN (John Grierson and Robert Flaherty, UK 1933, 21 min.); NIGHT MAIL (HarryWatt and Basil Wright, UK 1936, 23 min.); HOUSING PROBLEMS (Arthur Elton and Edgar Anstey, UK 1935, 17 min.); SPARE TIME (Humphrey Jennings, UK 1939, 15 min.) Britain fostered a documentary film movement in the 1930s that challenged and changed the prevailing codes of realism, by combining a Soviet-inspired appreciation of montage with a populist commitment to solving specific social problems. The state-sponsored film units that produced these documentaries were comprised of several talented young filmmakers who collaborated under the leadership of John Grierson. These documentaries treated the industrial working class with a familiar respect and powerfully demonstrated that workers and the work that they performed were the backbone of British society.
Friday, November 19
BATTLE OF CHILE (BATALIA DE CHILE) (Patricio Guzman. Chile 1976), Parts I and II (190 min.) During 1972-73 Guzman and a small film crew documented the Chilean people’s struggle to build a workers democracy following the election of Salvador Allende —
“a struggle of a people without arms,” as the subtitle stresses — a struggle that was defeated but which holds important lessons for people everywhere. Part I. The Insurrection of the Bourgeoisie reveals the tactics of the Chilean right to destabilize Allende’s government, while Part II, The Coup d’Etat shows the military in action against the people and their government, including factory occupations and assassinations culminating in the bombing of the presidential palace on 11 September 1973.
Saturday, November 20
BATTLE OF CHILE, Part III (Patricio Guzman. Chile 1979 80 min.)
Rochester Premiere CHILE: OBSTINATE MEMORY (Patricio Guzman. France/Canada 1997, 52 min.) Part III, People’s Power, serves as a flashback to the action of Parts I and II of Battle of Chile and shows the efforts of Chilean workers to gain control over their factories, land, resources and communities ranging from factory takeovers and nationalizing copper production to land and food redistribution and provision of healthcare. In 1996 the filmmaker returned to Chile to come to terms with the pain, remembered and buried, of Chile’s past 25 years. He sought and interviewed survivors of the Pinochet dictatorship and he showed his film, which had been banned. Linking past and present in obstinate memory, this film becomes Part IV of Guzman's epic of Chile.