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Category Archives: Textile Industry

Bread and Roses: The Lawrence Textile Strike

6:17m

The Lawrence Textile Strike was a strike of immigrant workers in Lawrence, Massachusetts in 1912 led by the Industrial Workers of the World. Prompted by one mill owner’s decision to lower wages when a new law shortening the workweek went into effect in January, the strike spread rapidly through the town, growing to more than twenty thousand workers at nearly every mill within a week. The strike, which lasted more than two months and which defied the assumptions of conservative trade unions within the American Federation of Labor that immigrant, largely female and ethnically divided workers could not be organized, was successful; within a year, however, the union had largely collapsed and most of the gains achieved by the workers were lost.

 

Century of Women

on garment workers, 1909 strike, Triangle, 15 minutes

 

The Song of the Shirt (1979)

song-of-the-shirt

16mm, 135 min, black & white
Directors Sue Clayton
Jonathan Curling
Production Company Film & History Project
BFI Production Board
Script Sue Clayton
Jonathan Curling
Music Lindsay Cooper

Cast: Martha Gibson, Geraldine Pilgrim, Anna McNiff, Liz Myers, Jill Greenhalgh, Sally Cranfield, Alfred Molina

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An investigation into the position of working women in the 1840s, the effects of protectionist ‘philanthropy’ and the resistance to it. Explores the plight of a group of women working in the new ‘sweated’ clothes trade in London.

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Originally intended as a history of the welfare state, as well as a contribution to debates on feminist history, issues of free trade against philanthropy and capitalist expansion against protectionism, The Song of the Shirt became a subject of debate in itself, not least thanks to its four-year gestation.Many different groups, including Women’s Aid and the Feminist History Project, were involved during this long production period, and as a result the final film had a broader agenda (and therefore audience) than was originally planned. While it still addresses ideas of feminist history and Marxist theory, it can also be read as a rather more ambitious project that fuses the history of fashion, literacy and sexuality.

It is constructed as a documentary, although the use of multiple-screen effects, monitors displaying text and projected backdrops constantly disrupts the flow of information. Few dates are revealed in the film, forcing us to address the arguments rather than the chronology. It moves back and forth between locations and eras, juxtaposed in such a way as to highlight the contradictions in the labour market. Close-ups of women and characters in the dramatised scenes are avoided, and in the tribunal sequence the figure-of-eight camera movements suggest aimlessness.

The women’s readings, both singly and in groups, are based on a story that appeared in the magazine Notes to the People. ‘A Page for the Ladies’ argues that all classes of women are oppressed. Women of different classes read the text in different ways, with other voices of workers and political writers given equal footing with the text.

The Song of the Shirt‘s combination of relentless political content and a dislocated and disruptive presentation makes it stand out from its contemporaries in its ambition to present a genuinely feminist independent film. Co-director Sue Clayton, a graduate of the Royal College of Art, has continued to explore these themes through her work with the Independent Filmmakers’ Association and Screen magazine.

Emma Hedditch
http://www.screenonline.org.uk/film/id/496441/

 

 

 

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

 

 

Tangled Threads

“Tangled Threads” chronicles labor rights activist Kalpona Akter’s organizing efforts in Bangladesh’s garment industry before and after the Rana Plaza building collapse, which claimed the lives of at least 1,138 garment workers. It does so against the backdrop of two very different worlds: New York’s modeling industry, on the one hand, and Bangladesh’s garment industry, on the other. Produced by STZFilms.

Directed by: Sara Ziff

Sara Ziff is a New York-based filmmaker, fashion model, and labor activist. She co-directed and produced the feature documentary “Picture Me” (2009), which shed light on labor issues in the modeling industry, particularly sexual abuse. Currently she serves as co-founder and executive director of the Model Alliance, a nonprofit labor group for models working in the American fashion industry. Ziff first traveled to Bangladesh in 2012, when she began collaborating with the Bangladesh Center for Worker Solidarity (BCWS) and the International Labor Rights Forum (ILRF) to try to organize workers across fashion’s supply chain.

https://www.facebook.com/stzfilms

 

 

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Tears in the Fabric

A Documentary Film and Resource Website by Rainbow Collective and Openvizor. In Savar, Bangladesh, Razia struggles to raise two grandchildren after losing her daughters in the Rana Plaza factory collapse, a disaster which claimed the lives of over 1000 garment workers. One year on, Tears in the Fabric follows Razia as, amidst the struggle of raising and educating her grandsons, she searches for resolution and answers through protest on the streets of Dhaka and amongst the rubble and torn fabrics of Rana Plaza. Tears in the Fabric offers a starkly honest and deeply moving view of the human cost of high street fashion.

Directed by: The Rainbow Collective, UK

http://www.rainbowcollective.co.uk/#!tears-in-the-fabric/c1zdc

 

 

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