Category Archives: Construction Trades

These Hands (1992)

45 minutes, 1992, Tanzania, Africa
Director: Flora M’mbugu-Schelling
in Kimakonde and Swahili with English subtitles

Who would have suspected that a 45 minute documentary about women crushing rocks, without narration or plot, would offer one of the most unforgettable and rewarding experiences of recent African cinema? Flora M’mbugu-Schelling’s quiet tribute to women at the very bottom of the international economic order ultimately deepens into a mediation on human labor itself. These Hands will stimulate viewers to rethink documentary and to question their own role as consumers in a global economy.



Trace of Stones (1966)

139m; East Germany

Director: Frank Beyer

Cast: Manfred Krug, Krystyna Stypulkowska and Jutta Hoffmann

Synopsis (IMDB): Hannes Balla is the foreman of a group of building construction workers at the large construction site “Schkona” in the GDR. They spend most of their time working hard and drinking harder – to some they are fun, to some they are a public nuisance. Things get more complicated when the good-looking Kati Klee is employed as a young technician, and the ambitious new Party Secretary, Werner Horrath, aims to boost work efficiency and downsize Balla’s ego. Kati slowly warms up to Werner, but is also attracted to Balla’s nonconformity. A contemporary movie about work, love, and everything in between.


Transnational Tradeswomen (2006)

2006, 62 minutes, Color, DVD, Thai, Chinese, Tamil, Urdu, Japanese, SubtitledtransnationalTradeswomen2
available from Women Make Movies
Inspired by organizers at the Beijing Conference on Women in 1995, former construction worker Vivian Price spent years documenting the current and historical roles of women in the construction industry in Asia – discovering several startling facts. Capturing footage that shatters any stereotypes of delicate, submissive Asian women, Price discovers that women in many parts of Asia have been doing construction labor for centuries. But conversations with these women show that development and the resulting mechanization are pushing them out of the industry. Their stories disturb the notion of “progress” that many people hold and show how globalization, modernization, education and technology don’t always result in gender equality and the alleviation of poverty.Celebrating a range of women workers – from a Japanese truck driver, to two young Pakistani women working on a construction site in Lahore, to a Taiwanese woman doing concrete work alongside her husband – this film deftly probes the connections in their experiences. In a segment exploring the history of the Samsui women in Singapore (Chinese women who were recruited as construction laborers in the 1920’s until they lost their jobs to mechanization in the 1970’s) unique archival footage and interviews with surviving Samsui offer an importation perspective on the historical and global scope of women workers’ struggles.


Twinning The Blue Water Bridge

In Twinning the Blue Water Bridge, the workers, contractors, engineers and dignitaries tell the story in their own words, sharing personal observations, emotions and experiences of constructing the second Blue Water Bridge.  Spanning the St. Clair River between Port Huron, Michigan and Point Edward, Ontario, it was the first new international bridge built between Canada and the US in over 30 years.. This 55-minute documentary chronicles the entire construction process from its design and planning phase in 1994 through the dedication ceremonies in July 1997.
It concludes with one of the most dazzling fireworks displays ever seen: walls of fire cascading into the river and rockets shooting off the bridge almost endlessly into the night.


Women in the Global Construction Site

Director: Vivian Price

Synopsis: Female construction workers


Second Chances – Union Made (2008)

55m; U.S.

Director: Kelly Candaele

Synopsis: Follows union members who came out of street gangs and prison into the building trades unions and as a result changed their lives

Contact: 323-547-1183 (Cell)


Sisters Of Philadelphia (2006)

11m; U.S.

Director: K. S. Haskey

Synopsis: Women in the Carpenters Union. Women in non-traditional work.

Contact: K S Haskey PO Box 154 Pedricktown, NJ 08067 856-299-7914 301-395-7923


Slim (1937)

85m; U.S.

Director: Ray Enright

Cast: Pat O’Brien, Henry Fonda and Stuart Erwin

Synopsis (IMDB): A veteran lineman takes an awe-struck young farmer under his wing, but problems arise when he introduces him to his occasional girlfriend, a pretty nurse.


Solitary Life Of Cranes (2008)

27m; U.K. 

Directro: Eva Weber

Synopsis: In this companion piece to CITY OF CRANES (SILVERDOCS ’08), anonymous crane operators muse about their unique occupation while the camera voyeuristically captures London scenes. This is a wonderful short that contemplates the modern metropolis and its unceasing development.


The Son (2002)

103m; Belguim

Director: Jean-Pierre Dardenne, Luc Dardenne

Cast: Olivier Gourmet, Morgan Marinne and Isabella Soupart

Synopsis (IMDB): Olivier – meticulous, careful, even-handed – teaches carpentry at a vocational school in Liège. He’s asked to take on Francis, 16, a new student. He declines the request then begins to watch, even spy on, the new lad. Olivier knows something. Later that day, he’s visited by Magali, his ex-wife, who tells him that she’s remarrying and is pregnant. Olivier seems to follow instinctive responses: “why today?” he demands of Magali; he continues to follow Francis; he changes his mind about enrolling the youth. What’s the history between the two? After that becomes clear, what is it Olivier will do? Is this precise and measured carpenter in control of himself?