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Category Archives: Farm & Food

At Any Price (2012)

| | DramaSportThriller | 1 May 2013 (Philippines)
Director: Ramin Bahrani
Writers: Ramin Bahrani, Hallie Elizabeth Newton
Stars: Dennis Quaid, Zac Efron, Kim Dickens |

In this parable Willie Loman meets Monsanto. Henry Whipple (Dennis Quaid) is a flawed Iowa corn farmer and a sales rep for a GMO seed company, under pressure both to expand his territory and to increase his harvest — “go big or die.” Bahrani (Man Push Cart, 2005) addresses timeless themes: fathers and sons, ambition and rebellion, solidarity and self-interest, morality and survival and, ultimately, the death of dreams. The film is an unsettling and introspective take on the influence of economic and social forces on an American everyman.

 

Resistencia: The Fight for the Aguan Valley

Director: Jesse Freeston
Writers: Diego Briceño-Orduz (story), Jesse Freeston
me@jessefreeston.com
http://resistenciathefilm.com/

In 2009, the first coup d’etat in a generation in Central America overthrows the elected president of Honduras. A nation-wide movement, known simply as The Resistance, rises in opposition. Resistencia: The Fight for the Aguan Valley centers on the most daring wing of the movement, the farmers of the Aguan. Not satisfied with just marching and blocking highways, 2000 landless families take possession of the palm oil plantations of Miguel Facusse, the country’s largest landowner and a key player in the coup. The camera follows three farmers over four years as they build their new communities on occupied land, in the face of the regime’s violent response, while waiting for the elections The Resistance hopes will restore the national democratic project.

 

Streit’s: Matzo and the American Dream (2015)

http://matzofilm.com/
65 min  |  Documentary, Family, History  |  12 April 2015 (USA)
Director/writer: Michael Levine

On Manhattan’s Lower East Side, in a series of four nondescript brick tenement buildings, sits the Streit’s Matzo factory. In 1925, when Aron Streit opened the factory’s doors, it sat at the heart of the nations largest Jewish immigrant community. Today, in its fifth generation of family ownership, in a rapidly gentrifying Lower East Side, it remains as the last family owned matzo factory in America.
(note: the factory closed in April 2015; workers will have to commute to New Jersey)

 

The Seeds (2015)

Filmmakers: Beto Novaes and Claisson Vidal
Brazil | 2015 | Documentary | 30 minutes

The documentary portrays life trajectories of women farmers participating actively in agroecological movements in Brazil. They are protagonists of important social changes in the Brazilian countryside. Moreover, these women organise the movements themselves, autonomously, as social and political leaders that are questioning stereotypes of the social imaginary.
2015 Brazilian International Labour Film Festival; http://www.bilff.org

 
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Posted by on November 11, 2015 in Documentary, Farm & Food, Women

 

Hard Labor (2015) (Trabalhar Cansa)

Not rated
In Portuguese, with English subtitles
Running time: 1 hour 39 minutes

Workplace tensions intersect with domestic stresses in Juliana Rojas and Marco Dutra’s “Hard Labor,” a tense drama inching toward stark metaphor. Otávio (Marat Descartes) is a middle-aged, middle-class apartment dweller in São Paulo, Brazil, who has just lost an unspecified white-collar job. He receives the news just as his wife, Helena (Helena Albergaria), is trying to get a modest grocery store business off the ground. Parents to a young daughter, they are an affectionate, mutually supportive pair, but the vicissitudes of their struggles exact a cost. Otávio attends a humiliating job interview in which he is questioned while seated opposite two younger men seeking the same position. An employment counselor tells him his search could take a year. Eventually he is reduced to telephone sales, cold calling customers to pitch insurance. His efforts pale beside the troubles of Helena, who faces thieving employees, strained relations with a young housekeeper (Naloana Lima) she has hired, leaky plumbing and something hidden behind a wall at her store that exudes a foul odor and might be alarming a dog across the street. The filmmakers, largely forgoing a soundtrack, skillfully manipulate stillness, silence and anomie to unsettling effect — at times evoking the ambient dread and decay of, say, Roman Polanski’s “Repulsion.” That Mr. Descartes and especially the skilled Ms. Albergaria are devoid of movie star airs elicits our sympathy. As does a lingering shot of a line of applicants for store employment, a group portrait of Brazil’s recessionary casualties.
New York Times

 

Labour in a Single Shot

http://www.labour-in-a-single-shot.net

Starting in 2011 artist, curator, and author Antje Ehmann and filmmaker, video artist and author Harun Farocki initiated video production workshops in 15 cities around the world in which participants were to engage with the subject of ‘labour’: paid and unpaid, material and immaterial, traditional or new. The videos could not be longer than two minutes and they had to be taken in a single shot. The camera could be static, panning or travelling but cuts were not allowed. This concept references the Brother Lumière’s famous film Workers Leaving the Factory which was filmed in one continuous take from a fixed camera position.

The result of these workshops, which were organised together with local branches of the Goethe-Institut, are 400 films which show people engaged in all kinds of work, each film taking a different stance, literally and figuratively, towards its subject while also recording the diverse mental attitudes and bodily relation people have to their work.

Facing the challenge of filming something that might be essentially repetitive, continuous and boring, the films also foreground the work of the camera operator and his or her aesthetic decisions. In the multitude and diversity the films form a visual compendium and an archive of labour and cinema in the 21st century that is never boring or repetitive but enhances and simultaneously questions our perception and understanding of work.

All the films can be watched on a dedicated website, at random, or sorted by city, colour or type of work. A selection of 90 films was shown as an installation at the House of World Culture in Berlin from 27 February to 6 April 2015 with an accompanying conference. This exhibition also presented the project ‘Workers Leaving the Factory in 15 Cities’ (2011 – 2014), consisting of contemporary remakes of the famous film by the Lumière Brothers which were shot in 15 cities all over the world. Also included in the exhibition was the installation ‘Workers Leaving the Factory in Eleven Decades’ (2006), which showed scenes of workers leaving the factory throughout the history of cinema, from the Lumière Brothers (1895) to Lars van Trier’s Dancer in the Dark (2000).

‘Labour in a Single Shot’ is a co-production of the Harun Farocki Filmproduktion with the Goethe-Institut.

www.harunfarocki.de

 

The Women Workers’ War

2013
Documentary
Italy
Director: Massimo Ferrari
54 Minutes

The story of longest factory sit-in by women–500 days–led by Rosa Giancola of Latina, and a factory that churns out sweets and thoughts, led by Margherita Dogliani of Carrara. The documentary recounts the story of two women who are very special and react in profound and non-conventional ways to the economic and moral crisis that grips Italy. The documentary won an award at the Workers Unite! Film Festival of New York.

 

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.

 

 

Cesar Chavez

2014
102 min
Biography

Director: Diego Luna
Writers: Keir Pearson (screenplay), Timothy J. Sexton
Stars: Michael Peña, America Ferrera, Rosario Dawson

The film follows Chávez’s efforts to organize 50,000 farm workers in California, some of whom were braceros—temporary workers from Mexico permitted to live and work in the United States in agriculture, and required to return to Mexico if they stopped working. Working conditions are very poor for the braceros, who also suffer from racism and brutality at the hands of the employers and local Californians. To help the workers, César Chávez (Michael Peña) forms a labor union known as the United Farm Workers (UFW). Chávez’s efforts are opposed, sometimes violently, by the owners of the large industrial farms where the braceros work. The film touches on several major nonviolent campaigns by the UFW: the Delano grape strike, the Salad Bowl strike, and the 1975 Modesto march. 

 

Eat Sleep Die

2012
Directed by Gabriela Pichler
Sweden
104 mins

Nermina Lukac’s electrifying performance as Raša is the heart of director Gabriela Pichler’s feature debut. A Montenegrin-born young woman living in rural Sweden, Raša is laid off from her job at a food-packing plant. Her ensuing job search pulls us through the maze of limited prospects and frustrating bureaucracy facing the country’s working immigrant population. Affable, resilient, street smart and soft-hearted, Raša’s natural magnetism draws us in completely. We feel every ounce of her disappointment, fear and elation as she soldiers on, looking for work. An Audience Award winner at the Venice Film Festival, EAT SLEEP DIE’s assured naturalism and political conviction single out Pichler as a bold, exciting new cinematic voice. Her film is a positive rallying cry for low-wage workers who dream of a life that won’t merely add up to the three verbs that form the film’s title.
– Mike Dougherty, American Film Institute