Friday, September 7, 7:30 p.m.
THE YOUNG KARL MARX
(Le jeune Karl Marx, Raoul Peck, France/Belgium/Germany 2017, 118 min., DCP, German and French w/subtitles)
On the heels of his Oscar-nominated documentary I Am Not Your Negro, Raoul Peck’s latest film presents Marx in his mid-20s facing government censorship, forming his partnership with Friedrich Engels, sparring with rival thinkers to build an international socialist movement, and writing the Communist Manifesto. The film paints a portrait of these two impetuous young men and the women in their lives who passionately believed in the revolutionary power of the oppressed to create a radically new world.
Friday, September 14, 7:30 p.m.
(Rahul Jain, India/Finland/Germany 2017, 71 min., DCP, Hindi w/subtitles)
Marrying stunning visuals with social advocacy, Rahul Jain’s debut documentary—winner of the Special Jury Award for Cinematography at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival—takes audiences into the labyrinthine passages of an enormous textile factory in Gujarat, India. Jain’s camera wanders freely between pulsating machines and bubbling vats of dye to create a moving portrait of the workers who toil there 12 hours a day for meager wages to send their families back home. Interviews with these workers and the factory owners reveal the stark inequality and dangerous working conditions brought about by unregulated industrialization in the region.
Friday, September 21, 7:30 p.m.
I, DANIEL BLAKE
(Ken Loach, UK/France/Belgium 2016, 100 min., DCP)
Winner of the Palme d’Or at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival, Ken Loach’s latest film is a gripping, human tale about the impact one man can make. Daniel Blake (Dave Johns), a gruff but goodhearted widowed woodworker, lives by his own common sense moral code. But after a heart attack leaves him unable to work and the state welfare system fails him, the stubbornly self-reliant Daniel must stand up and fight for his dignity, leading a one-man crusade for compassion that will transform not only his life, but the lives of a struggling single mother (Hayley Squires) and her two children. I, Daniel Blake is a moving, much-needed reminder of the power of empathy from one of the world’s greatest living filmmakers.
Friday, September 28, 7:30 p.m.
FREE LUNCH SOCIETY
(Christian Tod, Austria/Germany 2017, 92 min., DCP, German w/subtitles)
What would you do if you did not have to work for a living? What if you received an unconditional basic income as a right? Today, the elimination of jobs and the increased productivity of labor have compelled consideration of basic income proposals. Free Lunch Society provides background on this idea and examines the consequences of its implementation. The film will be followed by a discussion addressing key questions surrounding basic income: Will it induce laziness or will it fully develop individual and social possibility? Do we need gainful employment to give our lives meaning?
Friday, October 5, 7:30 p.m.
(Arábia, João Dumans, Affonso Uchoa, Brazil 2017, 97 min., DCP, Portuguese w/subtitles)
Andre, a teenager, lives in an industrial town in Brazil near an old aluminum factory. One day, a factory worker, Cristiano, suffers an accident. Asked to go to Cristiano’s house to pick up clothes and documents, Andre stumbles on his notebook, and it is here that Araby begins—or, rather, transforms. As Andre reads from the journal entries, we are plunged into Cristiano’s life, into stories of his wanderings and work, his adventures and loves. Beautifully written and filmed, Araby is a fable-like road movie about a young worker who sets off on a ten-year journey in search of a better life.
Friday, October 12. 7:30 p.m.>
IN THE INTENSE NOW
(No Intenso Agora, João Moreira Salles, Brazil 2017, 127 min., DCP, Portuguese and French w/subtitles)
Like Grin Without a Cat, Chris Marker’s classic documentary, In the Intense Now speaks to the late 1960s as a moment of great historical intensity. Film shot in China during the 1966 Cultural Revolution is juxtaposed to footage of the French students’ uprising in May of 1968 and the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in August of the same year. Funerals of students, workers, and police officers link the events of 1968 in the cities of Paris, Lyon, Prague, and Rio de Janeiro. The footage, all of it archival, not only reveals the state of mind of those filmed—joy, enchantment, fear, disappointment, dismay—but also sheds light on the relationship between a film document and its political context.
Friday, October 19, 7:30 p.m.
AMERICAN SOCIALIST: THE LIFE & TIMES OF EUGENE VICTOR DEBS
(Yale Strom, US 2018, 99 min., DCP)
Leader of the American Railway Union’s great Pullman Strike of 1894 and a founder of the Industrial Workers of the World, Gene Debs ran as a Socialist for President of the United States five times—once from prison, having been convicted of opposing military service in WWI. Filmmaker and ethnographer Yale Strom has turned his attention to this American political hero, hoping to define and contextualize the term ”socialist” through an objective but passionate history of the movement founded and championed by Debs, a movement that continues to have an impact on our lives today.
Friday, October 26, 7:30 p.m.
THIS IS OUR LAND
(Chez nous, Lucas Belvaux, France/Belgium 2017, 114 min., DCP, French w/subtitles)
Though Marine Le Pen was defeated in the 2017 French election, her far right-wing party with its nationalist, anti-immigrant platform, lives on to feed the fear and resentment that begot Donald Trump’s victory. This is Our Land is a fictionalized story of a working-class single mother in the North of France who naively agrees to run for mayor, representing the Patriotic Bloc. Lucas Belvaux, who previously directed Rapt, a terrific thriller about a French politician’s kidnapping, deals with another type of kidnapping here as Populist rhetoric dominates the electorate.
Saturday, November 3, 7:30 p.m. Note Saturday only screening
(Niki Caro, US 2005, 126 min., 35mm)
”Sexual harassment will not be tolerated, but will be graded.” These words appeared on signs posted around a Minnesota iron ore processing plant after the state asked plant management to develop a sexual harassment policy. That demand was in response to a class action sexual harassment lawsuit—the first in America—brought against the Eveleth mining company by women workers, members of the United Steelworkers’ union. North Country vividly depicts the women’s harassment in the workplace and their response on the job, in the union, and in the courtroom. Strong performances by Charlize Theron, Frances McDormand, Sissy Spacek and Woody Harrelson, and a score featuring songs by Minnesota’s Bob Dylan.
Series Synopsis: A joint effort of the Rochester Labor Council and the Dryden Theatre at George Eastman House, the Rochester Labor Film Series presents motion pictures that celebrate workers. The first annual film program of its kind in the nation, it shows feature films and documentaries depicting important aspects of work usually marginalized or absent on the screens of commercial theaters. These films from around the world are selected to inform, provoke and inspire. The series celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2014; click here for the ROCHESTER’S LABOR FILM SERIES AT 25 essay.
Every year’s schedule since 1989 — including film write-ups — is available on the website.
Introducing Labor Films: Introductions to films in the Rochester Labor Film Series: From A Grin Without a Cat to Trash Dance, introductions intended to supply background on the issues raised in a film, offer insight into the film’s production or the filmmaker’s intent, or help viewers to understand the film during or after the screening. A great tool for labor film festival organizers, viewers or anyone interested in labor films.