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Author Archives: jckozlowski

Bread, Concrete, and Roses

2013
Documentary
Turkey
Director: Yonetmen

The film is about the dangerous life of construction workers in a foreign land far from their homeland, and their social problems.
–Written by Steven Zeltzer

 

Istanbul Rising

2013
Documentary
18 Minutes
Vice News

The effort to protect the privatization of Gezi Park in Istanbul touched off one of the biggest protests and demonstrations in Turkey. This film shows how the people tried to protect the park from developers and property speculators who the AKP Prime Minister Erdogan represents.

 

The Southeast of Ankara

2013
Documentary
Director: Yonetmen
22 Minutes

The families of those immigrated for various reasons live in the four edge districts of Ankara which are located in the boundaries of Çankaya. The families who have lived for years in this region are exposed to an enforced immigration for urban transformation. The movie expresses the urban transformation and immigration subjects through the viewpoint of the children of those families.

 

Detachment

2011
Drama
Director: Tony Kaye
Writer: Carl Lund

A strong cast and good acting punctuate this drama about well-worn themes in contemporary cinema and educational discourse—failed public schools and the teachers allegedly indifferent to the pervasive, seemingly intractable social problems in them. Adrien Brody plays a substitute teacher who, in his one-month stint in a long-suffering public school, encounters teachers barely hanging on to their jobs and vocational motivation, and teenage students struggling with identity problems, abuse, and serious adult dilemmas such as prostitution. Hard-hitting indictment of not just the problems afflicting US public education but also some of the remedies advanced to solve them.

 

Dressing America: Tales from the Garment Center

2009
USA
Documentary
Directors: Steven Fischler, Joel Sucher
Writer: Joel Sucher
60 Minutes

This captivating documentary braids past and present, tracing the technological and financial changes in the US garment industry. Rich in ethnic and labor history, Dressing America illustrates the impact of corporate competition, outsourcing, and deunionization on an industry where small and family shops were once prevalent.

 

Men of the Cloth

2013
Documentary
Director: Vicki Vasilopoulos
96 Minutes

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 their challenging roles in the twilight of their career. The film unravels the mystery of their artistry and reveals how their passionate devotion to their Old World craft is akin to a religion.
–Written by Vicki Vasilopoulos

 

 

#standwithme

2014
Documentary
Directors: Patrick Moreau, Grant Peelle
Writers: Margaret Apple, Marshall Davis Jones

Only a 9-year-old would dream a lemonade stand could change the world. After seeing a photo of two enslaved boys in Nepal, Vivienne Harr is moved to help in the only way she knows how: by setting up her lemonade stand. With the goal of freeing 500 children from slavery, she sets up her stand every day, rain or shine. In telling Vivienne’s story, #standwithme examines the realities of modern-day slavery, the role we play in it as consumers, and the importance of knowing the story behind what we buy.

 

Food Chains

2014
Director: Sanjay Rawal
Writers: Erin Barnett, Sanjay Rawal
83 Minutes
More details here (updated 4/20/2020)

This moving examination of the food industry illustrates the hardships that farm workers endure—appallingly low wages, long hours in often brutal conditions, wage theft, physical and sexual abuse, and virtual slavery—to bring food to Americans’ tables. Linking farms to supermarkets, the documentary focuses on the efforts of tomato pickers, as part of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, to improve their wages and working conditions through organized, high-profile campaigns against powerful supermarket chains that they supply. Narrated by Oscar winner Forest Whitaker, Food Chains lays bare the often hidden human costs of our food, and the human struggles for dignity and decency for those who reap the harvests—but too few of the rewards.

 

 

The Road to Rock Bottom: PBS Great Depression Series (1993)

PBS Great Depression Series, #2

Producer: WGBH, Boston

Narrator: Joe Morton

53 minutes

This film, the second in the PBS Great Depression Series, examines the plight of farmers, sharecroppers, and agricultural workers before and particularly during the onset of The Great Depression. Devoting ample time to the hardships of agricultural labor, it focuses on the devastating effects that environmental factors such as drought wrought on farmers, migrant laborers, and sharecroppers alike. Sliding farm prices due to the glut of products on the market spurred a cycle of diminishing returns for most farmers, exacerbating their indebtedness and causing foreclosures, homelessness, privation, and starvation. “The Road to Rock Bottom” also devotes considerable time to the allure that Charles “Pretty Boy” Floyd had among many impoverished Americans in the early Depression era. A bank robber, Floyd enjoyed popular support–and occasionally some protection–among struggling farming communities, for Floyd’s targeting banks tapped into their resentment at institutions that, on the one hand many blamed for causing the Great Depression and, on the other, were increasingly foreclosing on their farms and homes. The inability and unwillingness of the federal government to devote far more resources to battling the onslaught of poverty and desperation receives ample attention in the documentary as well. Many politicians, including President Herbert Hoover, believed that increasing the federal government’s role in the daily lives of its citizens would foster dependency that ran counter to the themes of individualism permeating both America’s political parties at that time, and long-standing American political traditions. Culminating the film is the Bonus Army’s march to and occupation of parts of Washington D.C. Its unsuccessful efforts to pressure Congress to pay the service bonus to military veterans earlier than promised resulted in violent clashes between the Army (led by Chief of Staff Douglas MacArthur) and the Bonus marchers, sealing the fate of the Hoover presidency well before his overwhelming electoral defeat to Franklin D. Roosevelt in the 1932 presidential elections.

 

 

A Job at Ford’s: PBS Great Depression Series (1993)

PBS Great Depression Series, #1

Producer: WGBH, Boston

Narrator: Joe Morton

51 minutes

The first film in the WGBH Great Depression Series, this documentary uses the rise of the Ford system of manufacturing and workplace control as a prism into the onset of the socioeconomic cataclysm by the end of the 1920s known as the Great Depression. Stocked with oral histories with workers, managers, and working-class families, as well as archival film footage, it analyzes the ways in which the automobile, as a product of labor and a catalyst for deep transformations in American society, dominated American life and dictated its economic fortunes. Cars offered far greater access to travel and cultural experiences, especially for women and rural residents, than ever before. Auto work also attracted migrants from across the country, as well as from Mexico, to manufacturing centers in Detroit and the industrial North. Crucially, “A Job at Ford’s” illustrates the repressive labor-relations system that governed not only the workplace environment of auto workers, but also the daily lives of their families in order to ensure compliance with Henry Ford’s desires for social control. Additionally, the film devotes ample time to Ford’s anti-Semitic, racist beliefs, to the worsening conditions of the Depressions, the struggles of everyday people to survive largely without the direct help of the federal government, and the community-based efforts of political radicals and neighborhood groups to respond to the crises. Culminating with the Ford Hunger March in which Ford security guards killed four marchers and wounded over sixty others, the film conveys violence as not only a real threat to organizing at this time, but also a thread through, and force mitigating, working-class daily life in the early twentieth century.