2021 Rochester Labor Film Series Update
After last year's Covid-induced hiatus, the Rochester Labor Council and Dryden Theatre are pleased to resume their collaborative Rochester Labor Film Series,
screening films on important issues relating to work and workers — films that inform, provoke and inspire.
Our 31st annual program features nine "Best of the Fest" films selected by 2019 Labor Film Series audiences. Several are iconic labor films that define the genre:
Nine to Five, about women workers' struggle with sexism in the workplace; Norma Rae, about a textile worker's role in organizing a union in her factory; and
Harlan County U.S.A. a documentary about solidarity during a 1973 United Mine Workers' strike. Classic black and white films include Bicycle Thieves,
about the desperate circumstances of marginal Italian workers, and Grapes of Wrath, about vulnerable agricultural workers in Depression-era America.
Other films recount the persecution of immigrant Italian anarchist workers, Sacco e Vanzetti, and reveal the exploitation of workers in such varied contexts
as African domestic workers in France, Black Girl; fast food workers in the U.S., Compliance; and Mexican workers in an imagined cybernetic future, Sleep Dealer.
See you at the movies!
ROCHESTER LABOR FILM SERIES
The Rochester Labor Council and George Eastman Museum have shown over 300 labor-themed movies. The films represent several genres and encompass a wide range of issues &emdash; from the conditions of work and the workplace to organizing struggles, from discrimination and redundancy to globalization and immigration, from blue and white to pink collars.
Since its inception, the Labor Film Series has become part of Rochester’s cultural calendar. Its expanding audience includes many who attend regularly and contact us to suggest films and to inquire about the program. To date nearly 33,000 movie lovers have come to the Dryden Theatre to see our labor-themed films.
Over the years, we have also been fortunate to bring many filmmakers and others to the Dryden to present and discuss their work or to introduce films:
- Screenwriter Leslie Lee (The Killing Floor)
- Director Barbara Koppel (Harlan County USA; American Dream)
- Director George Stoney (Uprising of 1934)
- Director Harold Wexler (Bus Riders Union; Who Needs Sleep?)
- Director Robert M. Young (Alambrista)
- Film historian Stephen Ross (Passaic Textile Strike; Labor's Reward)
- Film historian Tom Zaniello (Roger & Me)
- Union leader Tony Mazzochi (Silkwood)
- Director Andrew Garrison (Trash Dance)
- Director Alex Rivera (Sleep Dealer)
- Director Craig Zobel (Great World of Sound)
- Director Vicki Vasilopoulis (Men of the Cloth)
- Critic Jack Garner (Labor Film Symposium)
In keeping with Dryden Theatre tradition all Labor Series films have been preceded by introductions which supply background on issues raised in the films, offer insight into the films’ production or the filmmakers’ intent, or help viewers to understand films during or after the screenings.
Many of these introductions have been transcribed and published at LaborFilms.org. Also at this website is an alphabetical listing of the films screened in all our Labor Film Series.
This website — rochesterlabor.org — lists all the films in each year of the labor film series (see right sidebar), complete with descriptive blurbs. The website also links to Struggle in Smugtown, our video documentary on Rochester labor history, screened at the Dryden in 2002.
The Rochester Labor Film Series has received both encouragement and generous support from the local labor community:
- from the Rochester Labor Council;
- from its many affiliated unions;
- from the Pettengill Labor Education Fund.
The series has also been sponsored by many individuals as well as by community groups such as Metro Justice, Rochester Committee on Latin America, Finger Lakes Occupational Health Services, and the National Income Life Insurance Company. See the list of 2021 sponsors.
The series has been sustained over these 31 years by the interest shown in labor films by the thousands of people who attend them: members of unions and community groups; Eastman Museum members; students; film lovers who appreciate the shared experience of seeing images projected on a large screen before a live audience.
Thank you, and see you at the Dryden.
Chair of the Labor Council’s Education Committee;
co-curator and coordinator of the Labor Film Series since 1989.
Pettengil Labor Education Fund;
co-curator and coordinator of the Labor Film Series since 2007.