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Category Archives: Cities-Urban

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

 

Waydowntown

2000
Comedy
Canada
Director: Gary Burns
Writers: Gary Burns, James Martin, Patrick McLaughlin
87 Minutes

This satirical lens into office work, corporate culture, and urban life involves a wager between co-workers as to who can last the longest without venturing outdoors. With their office building connected to both a well-stocked shopping center and their apartments, this appears a cinch. However, nearly a month into the contest at a retirement party, things go awry when one of the bettors, assigned to follow the CEO, discovers an unsavory secret about him.

 

Union Women, Union Power: From the Shopfloor to the Streets 

30 min
Filmmakers: Dina Yarmos and Sandra Jeong-In Lane

Highlighting five rank and file union women from different sectors across Philadelphia, “Union Women Union Power” introduces viewers to recent fights for democracy in Philadelphia workplace. The film was produced to spur intergenerational dialogue and engage younger women in the labor movement.

 

Bread, Concrete, and Roses

2013
Documentary
Turkey
Director: Yonetmen

The film is about the dangerous life of construction workers in a foreign land far from their homeland, and their social problems.
–Written by Steven Zeltzer

 

Istanbul Rising

2013
Documentary
18 Minutes
Vice News

The effort to protect the privatization of Gezi Park in Istanbul touched off one of the biggest protests and demonstrations in Turkey. This film shows how the people tried to protect the park from developers and property speculators who the AKP Prime Minister Erdogan represents.

 

The Southeast of Ankara

2013
Documentary
Director: Yonetmen
22 Minutes

The families of those immigrated for various reasons live in the four edge districts of Ankara which are located in the boundaries of Çankaya. The families who have lived for years in this region are exposed to an enforced immigration for urban transformation. The movie expresses the urban transformation and immigration subjects through the viewpoint of the children of those families.

 

Detachment

2011
Drama
Director: Tony Kaye
Writer: Carl Lund

A strong cast and good acting punctuate this drama about well-worn themes in contemporary cinema and educational discourse—failed public schools and the teachers allegedly indifferent to the pervasive, seemingly intractable social problems in them. Adrien Brody plays a substitute teacher who, in his one-month stint in a long-suffering public school, encounters teachers barely hanging on to their jobs and vocational motivation, and teenage students struggling with identity problems, abuse, and serious adult dilemmas such as prostitution. Hard-hitting indictment of not just the problems afflicting US public education but also some of the remedies advanced to solve them.

 

Braddock America

2013
France (in English)
100m
Directors: Gabriella Kessler, Jean-Loïc Portron

Writer: Jean-Loïc Portron
Braddock, Pennsylvania has been the home to key events that have greatly shaped American history. Today, it is struggling to reinvent itself and stay relevant.

In its own way, through immigration, industrialization, the rise of trade unionism and its destiny in question, Braddock tells a story of America: a rebellious, combatant America inhabited by men and women who refuse to accept the violence inflicted upon them. “Resist much, obey little,” Walt Whitman urged his fellow citizens; and indeed his words could be the motto of this film. The Monongahela Valley has been heavily stricken by the steel crisis and the shutdowns of the mills in the 80’s. It is probably easier to find more enchanting places in the world, but if many don’t imagine leaving the valley, it is because they know that this tiny parcel of land bears the traces, buried in its soil and in their memories, of events that helped build the history of their nation. This same awareness leads them to believe that such a special place might one day help map out a future for the United States. http://program33.com/braddock-america/

10/30/2014 NYT review: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/31/movies/braddock-america-the-story-of-a-rust-belt-struggle.html?_r=0

 

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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Schoolidarity

A sharply aimed film about Wisconsin and Chicago teachers fighting back against the onslaught of anti-union governors and big city mayors willing to sell out public education to the burgeoning power of the for profit charter school movement – which just happens to be mostly union-free.Through the eyes of public school teachers fighting for the benefit of all their students, Schoolidarity tells the interwoven story of the two most significant American workers’ rights struggles of recent years: the weeks-long 2011 mass occupation of the Wisconsin capitol, and the Chicago teachers strike of 2012. Schoolidarity provides a history of the issues surrounding the privatization of urban public schools in the US. By documenting the ascent of the activist teacher caucus CORE, Chicago’s public schools crisis is analyzed through the lens of the assault on public sector unions, where defeats are just as important to study as victories in order to insure education justice for all.

Directed by: Andrew Friend

http://vimeopro.com/insurgentproductions/andrew-friend/video/51703399