Category Archives: Biography

Tony Benn: Will and Testament

Director: Skip Kite
Writer: Skip Kite
90 Minutes

In this unique autobiographical feature, Tony Benn – one of the UK’s most influential and charismatic political figures – presents his personal reflections on life, work, love and loss through intimate, confessional interviews, wonderfully illustrated by his personal photographic and film archives. Criss-crossing the UK, he bears witness to major social and political upheavals and events that influenced him during his life and political career.
–Written by Tony Kite


Cesar Chavez

102 min

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. 


No Job For A Woman: The Women Who Fought To Report WWII (2011)

61 minutes, Color/BW, DVD, English NoJobforWoman
A film by Michèle Midori Fillion
available from Women Make Movies

When World War II broke out, reporter Martha Gellhorn was so determined to get to the frontlines that she left husband Ernest Hemingway, never to be reunited. Ruth Cowan’s reporting was hampered by a bureau chief who refused to talk to her. Meanwhile, photojournalist Dickey Chappelle wanted to get so close to the action that she could feel bullets whizzing by. This award-winning documentary tells the colorful story of how these three tenacious war correspondents forged their now legendary reputations during the war—when battlefields were considered no place for a woman.

Narrated by Emmy® Award winner Julianna Margulies, this film features an abundance of archival photos and interviews with modern female war correspondents, as well as actresses bringing to life the written words of these remarkable women. Their repeated delegation to the sidelines to cover the “woman’s angle” succeeded in expanding the focus of war coverage to bring home a new kind of story— a personal look at the human cost of war.


Michael Harrington and Today’s Other America, Corporate Power and Inequality (1999)

84m; U.S.

Director: Bill Donovan

This video is based on the writings and speeches of Michael Harrington, who was the pre-eminent spokesman for socialism in the United States. More than thirty interviews with people as diverse as William F. Buckley, John Kenneth Galbraith, and Gloria Steinem, discuss the important issues raised by Harrington and the Democratic Socialist Party. Ordinary people struggling to earn a living or dependent on food stamps and other social services provide viewers with a glimpse into their every day lives and the choices they must make. Cities shown include Youngstown, Ohio, where 60,000 jobs in the steel and coal industry were lost and never replaced, and San Diego, where farm workers live in shacks without running water or a sewage system. Also discussed is the domination and control of many areas of life in the United States by large corporations and the failure of the public school system and health care. This brief history of socialism in America and the changes in the past few decades in American life presented raise many questions. –


Southern Patriot (2010)

77m; U.S.
Director: Anne Lewis & Mimi Pickering
Distributed by California Newsreel and Appalshop

Synopsis: “Anne Braden: Southern Patriot (1924-2006)” is a first person feature documentary completed May 1, 2012. Braden rejected her segregationist, privileged past to become one of the civil rights movement’s staunchest white allies. In 1954 she was charged with sedition by McCarthy-style politicians who played on fears of communism to preserve southern segregation. In 1963 she became one of only five white southerners whose contributions to the movement were commended by Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. in his famed “Letter from Birmingham Jail.” A relentless labor and political organizer, she fought for transformation and liberation throughout her life.  –



Tribute to Eliseo Medina (2006)

17m; U.S.

Synopsis: Story of Medina, who became UFCW VP and then SEIU VP, leading movement to organize immigrant workers and fight for immigration reform.



When Miners March (2006)

7 discs

Director: Ross Ballard

Synopsis: William C. Blizzard, the son of Bill Blizzard, the “general” of the Battle of Blair Mountain, with the assistance of Wess Harris, compiled his many accounts of the West Virginia Mine Wars in his book, “When Miners March.” He had written most of the book for various labor publications anonymously in the 1950s. In 2005 Ross Ballard took the book and turned it into a monumental “audio movie,” complete with sound effects and original music. Songs on the special CD are by T. Paige Dalporto, Elaine Purkey, Hazel Dickens, Mike Morningstar, John Lilly and the Irish duo of Enda Cullen and Ian Smith.




Women Organize! (2000)


Director: Joan E. Biren

Synopsis: Inspirational short doc portrays women organizers across the U.S. who are involved in global struggles for racial, social, and economic justice. MB Maxwell (former JWJ Exec Dir) and Tracey Conaty (AFSCME) are featured.

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Posted by on June 13, 2012 in Biography, Documentary, Women


Xica da Silva (1976)

Release Date: 1996   Duration: 107 min
Cast: José Wilker

Xica da Silva (released as Xica in the United States) is a 1976 Brazilian film directed and written by Carlos Diegues, based on the novel by João Felício dos Santos pt:João Felício dos Santos. It stars Zezé Motta, Walmor Chagas and José Wilker. It was chosen as the Brazilian submission for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film at the 49th Academy Awards, but it failed to get a nomination. The film is based on the novel Memórias do Distrito de Diamantina, written by João Felicio dos Santos (who has a small role in the film as a Roman Catholic pastor). It is a romanticized retelling of the true story of Chica da Silva, an 18th century African slave in the state of Minas Gerais, who attracts the attention of João Fernandes de Oliveira, a Portuguese sent by Lisbon with the Crown’s exclusive contract for mining diamonds, and eventually becomes his lover. He quickly asserts control, letting the intendant and other authorities know that he’s onto their corruption scheme. Eventually Lisbon hears of João’s excesses and sends an inspector. José, a political radical, provides Xica refuge.


Ralph Fasanella: Song of the City (1979)

30m; U.S.

Director: Jack Ofield

Synopsis: Biography of a working class electrical plant worker/painter/CIO organizer.