Category Archives: Self-Employed/Freelance

Set for Life (2012)

Dir: Sam Newman and Susan Sipprelle
US, documentary

Follows three Baby Boomers who attempt to recover from the devastating impact of losing their jobs during the Great Recession. The film shows their struggle to hang onto their homes, health insurance, and hope. Over time, the three boomers learn to cope with unemployment’s drastic effects on their lives, including the loss of economic security and ultimately their loss of confidence in the American Dream.

Susan Sipprelle <>


Scrappers (2010)

Set within Chicago’s labyrinth of alleyways, Scrappers is a cinema verite portrait of Otis and Oscar, two scrap metal scavengers searching for a living with brains, brawn and battered pickup trucks. The film shows how globalization, the 2008 financial crisis, crackdowns on undocumented immigrants and widespread scrap metal theft affect these men and their families. (Written by Ben Kolak on IMDB)


Sometimes a Great Notion (1970)

114m; U.S.

Director: Paul Newman

Cast: Paul Newman, Henry Fonda and Lee Remick

Synopsis (IMDB): Hank Stamper and his father, Henry Stamper own and operate the family business by cutting and shipping logs in Oregon. The town is furious when they continue working despite the town going broke and the other loggers go on strike ordering the Stampers to stop, however Hank continues to push his family on cutting more trees. Hank’s wife wishes he would stop and hopes that they can spend more time together. When Hank’s half trouble making brother Leland comes to work for them, more trouble starts.


Race To The Bottom (2009)

20m; U.S.

Director: Michael Hamm, Jonathan King

Synopsis: This story is about the 2,000 independent truck drivers working at the Port of Oakland, The film gives us a look into the lives of the drivers and their struggles to earn a living wage, support their families, and stay healthy as they do their jobs, transporting goods in and out of the port. It also shows their efforts to build a community coalition to protect their jobs and their health and make their voices heard.


Salesman (1969)

91m; U.S.

Director: David and Albert Maysles

Synopsis: This landmark documentary follows four Boston bible salesmen as they struggle to make a living in the cutthroat world of door-to-door sales. The film follows the salesmen as they wheedle, connive and cajole their way into homes and wallets. As the pressure of the job bears down, the film reveals the dark underside of the American Dream.


Photo Booth (2009)

1m; U.S.
Director: Paul Rey-Burns

Synopsis: It’s a lonely job, but someone’s got to do it — time to get organized maybe…

Contact: Paul Rey-Burns (

Available on YouTube


Made In India: SEWA in Action (1998)


Director: Patricia Plattner

Synopsis (Women Make Movies): This powerful documentary is a portrait of SEWA, the now-famous women’s organization in India that holds to the simple yet radical belief that poor women need organizing, not welfare. SEWA, or the Self-Employed Women’s Association, corresponds to the Indian word sewa, meaning service. Based in the western Indian city of Ahmedabad, a dusty old textile town on the edge of the Gujarati desert, SEWA is at its core a trade union for the self-employed. It offers union membership to the illiterate women who sell vegetables for 50 cents a day in the city markets, or who pick up paper scraps for recycling from the streets–jobs that most Indian men don’t consider real work.

Inspired by the political, economic and moral model advocated by Mahatma Gandhi, SEWA has grown since its founding to a membership of more than 217,000 and its bank now has 61,000 members, assets of $4 million and customers who walk in each day to deposit a dollar or take out 60 cents. Following the lives of six women involved in the organization, including Ela R. Bhat, its visionary founder, Plattner’s documentary is an important look at the power of grassroots global feminism.