2015 Labor Film Series
All films shown at the Eastman House Dryden Theater, 900 East Avenue.
September 4 - November 20
Friday, September 4, 8 p.m.
The Hand That Feeds
(Rachel Lears & Robin Blotnick, US 2014, 88 min., DCP)
At a popular bakery café, residents of New York’s Upper East Side get bagels and coffee served with a smile 24 hours a day. But behind the scenes, undocumented immigrant workers earn sub-legal wages, dangerous machinery, and abusive managers. In 2012 a small group of them decided to fight back. Risking deportation and loss of their jobs, they teamed up with innovative young organizers and formed a union. In one roller-coaster year, they overcame a shocking betrayal and a two-month lockout. Lawyers battled in back rooms, Occupy Wall Street protesters took over the café, and a picket line divided the neighborhood. If they can win a contract, it will set a historic precedent for low-wage workers across the country.
Speaker: Bruce Popper, 1199 SEIU and President, Rochester Labor Council, AFL-CIO. Post-screening discussion with local fast food workers and Fight for Fifteen organizers.
Friday, September 11, 8 p.m.
Eight Men Out
(John Sayles, US 1988, 119 mn., 35mm).
A dramatization of the 1919 baseball scandal when several underpaid Chicago White Sox players accepted bribes to deliberately lose the World Series. A stellar cast (John Cusack, Charlie Sheen, Clifton James, Christopher Lloyd, David Strathairn, Michael Rooker) transforms the story of a national scandal into a suspenseful examination of labor issues in baseball during a time before players had a union and when they were virtually the property of team owners. Sayles blames the whole affair on miserly team owner Charles Comiskey (Clifton James).
Speaker:Jon Garlock, labor historian and series co-curator
Friday, September 18, 8 p.m.
On the Art of War
(Dellarte della guerra, Luca Bellino & Silvia Luzi, Italy/US 2012, 86 min., DCP, Italian with subtitles)
Milan, August 2009. Four workers climb a 65-foot gantry crane inside the hangar of the INNSE, a ferrous metals foundry and the last active factory in Milan. They threaten to throw themselves down to stop the dismantling of the machinery and the closure of the factory they work in. The hangar is surrounded by dozens of police and supporters from all over Italy. This is not a simple struggle. These workers have a clear strategy. They have an organized army. They know their territory and their enemy. Their story is told through a successful combination of TV footage, long shots of the factory, and interviews with the workers.
Speaker: Vincent Serravallo, sociologist and series co-curator
Friday, September 25, 8 p.m.
(Deborah Shaffer, Stewart Bird, US 1979, 89 min., 16mm)
“Wobblies” was the popular name given to members of the Industrial Workers of the World—an early 20th century union with syndicalist and anarchist sympathies. The U.S. government, Pinkerton detectives and private business used any means necessary, including murder, to suppress the Union. This documentary combines found footage and interviews to tell the compelling history of the IWW, whose motto “An injury to one is an injury to all,” expressed the organization’s commitment to class solidarity and whose slogan “We want bread and we want roses, too” grew out of a militant strike of immigrant textile workers.
Speaker: Jon Garlock, labor historian and series co-curator
Friday, October 2, 8 p.m.
(Jacob Tierney, Canada 2009, 114 min., Blu-Ray)
Like most high schoolers, Leon Bronstein (Jay Baruchel) is having an identity crisis. He believes he is the reincarnation of Soviet thinker Leon Trotsky and is predestined to follow his path. Sentenced to public school for staging a hunger strike in his father’s factory, Leon sees this punishment as another step toward the fulfillment of his destiny. After all, teeming with Stalinesque authoritarians and throngs of voiceless students, what arena could be more apropos for social reinvention than high school? He enlists a group of disenchanted youth and together they plan to take down the dictatorial principal. Director Jacob Tierney cleverly links the real Trotsky’s life to the tribulations of the passionate high schooler.
Speaker: Juri Meden, Curator of Film Exhibitions, Moving Image Department, GEH
Friday, October 9, 8 p.m
Men of the Cloth
(Vicki Vasilopoulos, US 2013, 96 min., Blu-Ray)
Men of the Cloth is an inspiring portrait of Nino Corvato, Checchino Fonticoli and Joe Centofanti, three Italian master tailors who confront the decline of the apprentice system as they navigate new challenges in the twilight of their careers. The film unravels the mystery of their art and reveals how their passionate devotion to an Old World craft is akin to a religion. This film will be of special interest in Rochester, with its long tradition of quality clothing production. Post-screening discussion with the filmmaker.
Speaker: Director Vicki Vasilopoulis. Post-screening discussion with Hickey-Freeman workers.
Friday, October 16, 6 p.m. (Note early start time)
The Hour of the Furnaces
(La Hora de Los Hornos, Octavio Getino and Fernando Solanas, Argentina 1968, 260 min., 16mm, Spanish, English, Portuguese with subtitles)
Solanas and Getino’s monumental document of neocolonialism in Latin America exemplifies what the directors termed a “Third Cinema.” Told in several parts (1. Neocolonialism and Violence; 2. Act for Liberation; 3. Violence and Liberation), this audacious call to action was filmed surreptitiously between 1966 and 1968 and was screened underground to anarchists and revolutionaries fighting the military dictatorship, some whom would become the victims of Argentina“s “dirty war.” The filmmakers use sound and images to challenge viewers, treating the audience as active participants in a cinema that exists “outside and against the System.” Poetic, shocking, remarkably engrossing, this treatise on the overt and covert injustices of colonialism, the violence necessary to fight violence, and the transformative role of art in political upheaval retains its revolutionary fervor to this day.
Speaker: Due to the film's length it will be preceded by brief remarks by film curator Jurij Meden and discussed, not immediately following the screening but at the next regular meeting of the Rochester Committee on Latin America. This discussion, facilitated by Latin America labor historian David Tamarin, will take place Wednesday November 4 at at 7 pm, Downtown United Presbyterian Church, 121 S. Fitzhugh Street.
Friday, October 23, 8 p.m.
(Alberto Fasulo, Italy 2013, 85 min., DCP, Italian, Croatian and Slovenian with subtitles)
For some months Branko, a former teacher, has been working as a truck driver for an Italian transport company. His income has tripled, yet everything has its price. Though work is supposed to make a man honorable, here it seems that the opposite is true. With his efficiency, his stubbornness and his good will to succeed in a job which is ever more alienating, bizarre and enslaving, Branko appears to be anything but noble. Though the film looks like a documentary on the road haulage industry in Europe, it was actually scripted and the actor who plays Branko drove a large truck thousands of miles during the filming.
Speaker: Juri Meden, Curator of Film Exhibitions, Moving Image Department, GEH
Friday, October 30, 8 p.m.
(Matthew Warchus, UK/France 2014, 117 min., DCP)
Pride is inspired by an extraordinary true story. It’s the summer of 1984, Margaret Thatcher is in power and the National Union of Mineworkers is on strike, prompting a London-based group of gay and lesbian activists to raise money to support the strikers’ families. Initially rebuffed by the Union, the group identifies a tiny mining village in Wales and sets off to make their donation in person. As the strike drags on, the two groups discover that standing together makes for the strongest union of all. As Jerame Davis, Executive Director of Pride at Work notes, “The cause of labor is the cause of every LGBT person. Solidarity isn't transactional, it’s transformational. ‘An injury to one is an injury to all’ is more than just a slogan for the labor movement. We should adopt it as our own.”
Speaker: Bess Watts, President, Pride at Work AFL-CIO, Rochester Finger Lakes Chapter
Friday, November 20, 8 p.m.
Phil Ochs: There But For Fortune
(Kenneth Bowser, US 2010, 96 min. On the day after the centennial of Joe Hill’s execution by the state of Utah, we commemorate this legendary IWW songwriter organizer with a documentary on another socially committed singer, Phil Ochs. Esteemed by such artists as Joan Baez, Bob Dylan and Pete Seeger, his opposition to the Vietnam War and his support for civil rights and workers’ struggles made Ochs powerful enemies. As Billy Bragg sang, “The FBI harassed you Phil, They smeared you with their lies. Says he, ‘But they could never kill What they could not compromise. I never compromised’.”