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By Gael Mocaer
"That's the fire emergency system. If there's a fire, it bursts and the water falls down," one of the mineworkers explains. He is talking about a few bags of water, all the size of a fist, somewhat haphazardly hung from the low ceiling of the mineshaft. "Like a huge waterfall."
Every day hundreds of men risk life and limb going down into the Buzhanska mine in the Ukraine to mine coal with rusty old tools from the Soviet era. It is heavy, unhealthy, hazardous work, which thanks to the relatively high pay - two to four times what people earn in the city - is nevertheless tempting to many young men. Once a year, they are honored during the Day of the Mineworker - another relic from the Soviet era, when the most deserving workers receive a rose from the director of the mine in a kitschy ceremony.
For the rest of the year the workers are ignored, pestered or intimidated by their bosses, and no one is concerned with their safety. THE COAL MINER'S DAY documents their work underground, their comradeship and dissatisfaction in and around the mine over the course of a year. Gradually overcoming the skepticism of the mineworkers, the filmmaker captures a series of oppressive, revealing moments.
"By no means as grimly dour as basic synopsis may suggest, the film works beautifully as a droll interrogation of how documentary filmmakers interact with their subjects, as well as an opportunity to glimpse working conditions in a remote and rarely-visited corner of Europe." - The Hollywood Reporter
DVD (Color) / 2013 / 80 minutes
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By Maya Gallus
Why do women bring your food at local diners, while in high-end establishments waiters are almost always men? DISH, by Maya Gallus, whose acclaimed GIRL INSIDE (2007) won Canada's Gemini Award for documentary directing, answers this question in a delicious, well-crafted deconstruction of waitressing and our collective fascination with an enduring popular icon. Digging beyond the obvious, Gallus, who waited tables in her teens, explores diverse dynamics between food servers and customers, as well as cultural biases and attitudes they convey. Her feminist analysis climbs the socio-economic ladder¡Xfrom the bustling world of lower-end eateries, where women prevail as wait staff, to the more genteel male-dominated sphere of haute cuisine. Astute, amusing observations from women on the job in Ontario's truck stop diners, Montreal's topless"sexy restos," a Parisian super-luxe restaurant, and Tokyo's fantasy "maid cafes", as well as male customers' telling comments, disclose how gender, social standing, earning opportunities, and working conditions intersect in the food service industry.
"Filled with sharp observations about the social dynamics of customer relations and workplace solidarity, the film should be an excellent starting point for discussions of gendered and class-stratified labor."
Fran Michel - Women & Gender Studies, Wilamette University
"DISH delves into... gender, power, and the art of service... What's revealed are the fantasies, desires, and prejudices projected onto women servers - including those of substitute wife, girlfriend, and personal servant." - Hot Docs International Film Festival
"Dish is a highlight of Hot Docs. Beautifully shot with a clear line of sight to point and purpose, fast-paced with impressive attention to detail." - XTRA Magazine
DVD (English, French, Japanese, Color) / 2010 / 70 minutes
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Directed by Jia Zhang-ke
A masterful new documentary from Jia Zhang-ke - "Not only is the 38-year-old director the most prominent Chinese filmmaker of his generation, he also has come to assume the role of witness and conscience in a society characterized by rapid modernization and a growing amnesia." (Dennis Lim, LA Times, 2008) - 24 City recounts the dramatic and thunderous fall of the state-owned Factory 420, exploring both its physical demolition and its powerful symbolic echo of a half-century of communist rule.
Given the name Factory 420 as an internal military security code, the Chengdu Engine Group was founded in 1958 to produce aviation engines, and saw years of prosperous activity. Now abandoned, the factory awaits its destiny. Sold for millions to real-estate developers, it will be transformed into an emblem of market economy: a complex of luxury apartment blocks called 24 City.
Constructed around eight dramatic interviews, punctuated by snippets of pop songs and poetry, along with beautifully-shot footage of the demolition, 24 City excavates the debris of collective memory and emphasizes the thin boundary between fact and fiction in post-revolutionary Chinese history. It does so by weaving into this oral history three fictional monologues delivered by professional actors. The interviewees represent three generations with ties to the factory: former factory workers, contemporary workers, and their children.
An absolutely mesmerizing experience, 24 City attempts to understand the complexity of the social changes sweeping across China by observing the impact a half-century of Socialism has had on the Chinese people.
"One of the most original filmmakers working today. Without nostalgia but with sensitivity and depth of feeling, Mr. Jia is documenting a country and several generations that are disappearing before the world's eyes." - Manohla Dargis, The New York Times
"The most important filmmaker in the world." - Stuart Klawans, The Nation
"Poignant and charming. Eloquent testimony to a China that is vanishing with each swing of the wrecking ball.... The memories of the workers in their factory microcosm, and telling documentaries like these, keep the past alive, so that later generations will know what once was, and what's been lost." - Mary Corliss, Time Magazine
"24 City brings huge stretches of long-repressed history to life on an intimate scale. Jia, filming with a calm, probing ruefulness, quietly unlocks the floodgates of memory as a crucial first step toward personal and political liberation." - Richard Brody, The New Yorker
Official Selection, Cannes Film Festival, 2008
Official Selection, Toronto Film Festival, 2008
Official Selection, New York Film Festival, 2008
DVD (Mandarin, With English Subtitles) / 2008 / 107 minutes
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Directed by Shawn Bennett
How a small labor dispute at the Ravenswood Aluminum Plant in Ravenswood, West Virginia erupted into a national boycott and media campaign that changed the way unions deal with management.
The pot room at the Ravenswood Aluminum Plant was topping 180 degrees. This was the most dangerous job in the plant. 39 year old Jimmy Rider was one of the union members that worked there, But not for long. How did he die? The members of Local 5668 will say it was Emmett Boyle.
Boyle was the new plant president that appeared to have a score to settle with the union members. His new management would attempt to run the plant harder, faster and with less people. Jack Collins wouldn't stand for it and would picket the concessions. Collins had the union behind him. Boyle fired Collins claiming he was practicing unsafe work stoppages. As Collins packed his bags to exit the plant, armed guards stood by waiting to escort him out the front gates. A gang of workers began packing their own bags. They were going to follow Collins out in show of support. Collins forced them to stay and avoid a wildcat strike situation.
The deadline for a new contract was midnight and the plant management refused to discuss safety with the union members. Meanwhile union leaders instructed third shift to report to work under the terms of the previous contract. 23 minutes into they were round up inside the plant and forced to exit the gates to the plant which were locked behind them.
With the help of the international Union and workers worldwide they would mount a campaign of boycotts and pressure that would shake the plants foundation. They would go head to head with the management and an international fugitive, Marc Rich, who owned the plant (the same Marc Rich who would be pardoned by Bill Clinton in 2000).
Told by the men and women who were directly involved in the dispute, The Battle of Local 5668 meticulously documents one of the most important labor battles of the 20th century.
"Recommended. An interesting film for students of labor relations and union histories. Inspiring is the action that was taken by the women of the community in support of their spouses." - Educational Media Reviews Online
Official Screening, Organization of American Historians Annual Conference, 2009
DVD / 2007 / 54 minutes
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Directed by Jean Yves Cauchard
Made in China tells one of the millions of stories of migrants from rural China who comprise the backbone of the Chinese economic miracle. It provides a human face behind the ubiquitous label "Made in China." This massive dislocation of people may well represent the largest, most rapid migration in human history. The film demonstrates how one generation of Chinese is experiencing the culture shock of an Industrial Revolution which took centuries in the West. It is inevitably both an elegy for a lost way of life and a grassroots view of what could become the most powerful economic power on earth.
Made in China follows the lives of a typical migrant couple, Heqing and Heping Fan, including their first trip home after two years in the city. They both work in the Cixi Industrial Zone, a manufacturing center with over 1,000,000 workers, mostly former peasants, south of Shanghai, in a plant making bathroom products for export. They work seven days a week, twelve hours a day for approximately $.45 an hour or about $250 a month. Each month they save about $150 dollars to send back to their village. The factory owner feels he is doing his workers a service; rural China is overpopulated and industrialization is the only answer for surplus peasants.
The Fans left the country, reluctantly, because of the depression facing Chinese agriculture. They once made $3000 a year from their orchards, but falling commodity prices, exacerbated by an overvalued yuan, forced the Fans to try new ventures to make a living. All attempts failed, leaving them deeply in debt to their neighbors, feeling overwhelming shame. Given the fact that the money economy has become more expensive, a single hospitalization cost Heqing $1500 dollars, or half a years salary. Even more prosperous peasants are leaving the village because factory work provides a low but reliable wage.
This year the Fans decide to return home for a four day visit during the Chinese New Year celebrations. They have left their two young children with their grandparents for over two years and strains are developing in their relationship. One unexamined cost of China's rapid industrialization is its impact on a whole generation of children who are in effect orphaned. The reunion is bittersweet and emotional; the young daughter will not sleep or let her mother out of her sight because she is so afraid she will leave. And soon the Fans do leave with the expectation of not returning home for three more years.
Eventually the force stage behind this unprecedented industrial revolution emerges ?the Chinese Communist Party. In the village, Heqing and a group of friends and local Party officials sing a drunken version of the "Internationale" and toast the Party and its recent reforms for China's growing prosperity. Back at the factory, we watch the Fans participating in a study group where they learn the 8 Virtues and Vices of a worker, in essence, to place the interest of the community before your own and to see the interest of the boss as the same as yourr own. Yet the motivation for everyone is personal survival and private advancement. The Fans?greatest hope for their children is that they receive an education so they will not succumb to the fate of factory workers or peasantry, but can instead join China's new, prosperous, professional elite. The cognitive dissonance between official socialist ideology and the harsh but dynamic realities of capitalist growth is not the least part of the Chinese economic miracle. As the film ends, the owner of the Fan's plant proudly surveys the site for his new next expansion: farm lands requisitioned by the state, whose displaced peasants apprehensively face an uncertain future like the Fans.
"In a profoundly moving way, this beautifully photographed film captures the rhythms of work and home life in one of China's new factory towns and an ancient village, and the links between them. It shows the exceptionally demanding physical as well as emotional labor behind China's economic miracle. Made in China simultaneously stimulates your mind and your heart." - Thomas Gold, Professor, Department of Sociology, UC Berkeley
"Made in China opens a window into the difficult lives and many sacrifices of the migrant laborers who are powering that country's economic boom as well as conveying the pain and heartbreak of the children they often have to leave behind back in the villages." - Martin K. Whyte, Professor of Sociology & Chinese Studies, Harvard University
"While Made in China reveals much about the hardships that the migrants encounter, it also contains striking vignettes of China's mixed political climate in which themes of past and present are intertwined. It is a film well worth seeing." -Thomas Bernstein, Professor emeritus, Columbia University
"Made in China is an unusual story telling. It follows a peasant family that experienced new opportunities, failure, migration and separation in the process of China's rapid industrialization in the past three decades. This film moves beyond China's aggregate statistics of growth and focuses on individual lives that are extremely dependent on, but can not be settled solely by monetary gains at the time of great transformation." - You-tien Hsing, Professor, Department of Geography, UC Berkeley
DVD / 2007 / 52 minutes
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Directed: Almudena Carracedo
Made in L.A. traces the moving transformation of three Latina garment workers on the fault lines of global economic change who decide they must resist. Through a groundbreaking law suit and consumer boycott, they fight to establish an important legal and moral precedent holding an American retailer liable for the labor conditions under which its products are manufactured. But more than this, Made in LA provides an insider's view into both the struggles of recent immigrants and into the organizing process itself: the enthusiasm, discouragement, hard-won victories and ultimate self-empowerment.
Lupe Hernandez, the most self-confident of the women, orphaned from her mother at age 12, grew up on the tough streets of Mexico City and escaped to Los Angeles 15 years ago to work with her sister in the garment industry. Mar Pineda, trapped for 23 years in an abusive marriage and in abusive sweat shop jobs, struggles so her children will not have to follow in her footsteps. Maura Colorado, a single mother, left her three children, then 2, 3 and 4, in El Salvador to support them by working in Los Angeles; due to her "undocumented" status, she has not seen them for the past 18 years. Director Almudena Carracedo explains the film's broad significance: "If Made in L.A. accomplishes anything, I hope it provides a deeply human window onto the immigrant struggle, which is being repeated around the world, regardless of country of origin or destiny."
Lupe, Mar and Maura met at the Los Angeles Garment Workers Center, which provides legal aid for immigrant workers and helps them organize to confront the powerful garment industry. There they learned that other workers suffer the same conditions they do: working 10 to 14 hour days, locked in rat-infested factories, denied minimum wages or overtime pay, forced to take piece-work home, afraid to protest because of their undocumented status, deprived of their dignity.
The Center discovered that many of the labor abuses seemed to come from subcontractors for a trendy, new, national women's apparel chain, Forever 21, which produced 95% of its line in Los Angeles. The workers decided to target the company; 19 plaintiffs sued it for unfair labor practices in a cutting edge attempt to reform of the entire garment industry. As Lupe states at the beginning of the film, "When everything started, we didn't know what would happen; we just knew that we had to do something." Made in L.A. captures their struggle as it unfolds over three exhausting, sometimes demoralizing, but ultimately life-changing years.
Forever 21, like most retailers, claimed they had no knowledge of, or responsibility for, the conditions under which their products were made. The workers' attorneys argued that large consumer chains' demands for ever lower prices and faster turnaround times could only be met if manufacturers and their subcontractors impose sweatshop conditions on workers. While most U.S. industries are off-shoring production so capital can tap into cheaper foreign labor, some exploit cheaper immigrant labor to this country instead. Made in L.A. provides an intimate portrait of three women who represent the vast, controversial influx of "undocumented" workers concentrated in centers like the Los Angeles' garment district or the construction industries of the Southwest and among day laborers and domestic workers across the country.
The garment workers won broad community support, picketing Forever 21 stores, protesting that they were paid only $.19 for a $13 blouse, and even demonstrating in front of the Beverly Hills mansion of the Korean immigrant owner of the chain. But a district judge dismissed their case as having "no merit," plunging them into the black hole of a 24 month appeal process. Meanwhile, Forever 21 counter-sued the plaintiffs for defamation.
In response to the company's attack, Lupe and Maura carried the boycott to Forever 21 stores across the country and spoke at various schools on immigrants' rights. In New York, Lupe visited the Tenement Museum and the Ellis Island Immigration Museum. Deeply moved by these experiences, she realized she was part of a long history of American immigrants who came here seeking a better life only to confront sub-human housing, unsafe factories, fourteen hour days and needing to organize themselves to fight for fair working conditions. Lupe comments: "It's just like that today."
Back in Los Angeles, the laboriously slow legal process took its toll. The fragile coalition began to fray; workers argued over who should do picket duty; some complained they didn't want to waste their limited free time on a futile protest. Mar, under pressure from her domineering husband, stopped going to the Garment Worker's Center entirely. Finally, the appeals court reversed the district court, holding that garment workers do have a right to sue retailers, who are indeed liable for infringements of labor laws by their subcontractors. At the risk of losing the workers' reinstated lawsuit, Forever 21 capitulated and, after tense negotiations, settled with the workers.
In the aftermath, Maura, realizing that higher pay will eventually drive garment manufacturers overseas in search of even lower wages, is learning English and becoming a naturalized citizen so she can move out of the garment industry. Maria, empowered by the boycott campaign, finally separated from her husband and continues to work in the industry - but for a 40-hour week at legal pay. And Lupe, who had applied and was hired as an organizer for the Center, demonstrated at the World Trade Organization's summit in Hong Kong, connecting the three women's struggle with that of workers around the world.
While Made in L.A. deftly interweaves the story of the path-breaking boycott and legal strategies, the focus is always on the women themselves, how they become agents of change, gaining self-confidence and self-esteem as they become more deeply involved in the struggle. They grow from victims into activists, determined to take control of their own lives. As director Carracedo concludes: "These wome struggle mattered not just for its own sake but because it served as a catalyst for each of them, in her own way, to stand up and say: 'I exist. I have rights.'"
This film ties together so many critical trends in contemporary economic life in the Americas and around the world that it can be successfully used in courses including Labor Studies, Latino Studies, Women's Studies, Global Economics, Social Movements, Consumer Behavior, and Business Ethics.
A co-production of Semilla Verde Productions, Independent Television Service (ITVS), and American Documentary Inc./POV, with funding provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB). Additional funding provided by The Sundance Institute Documentary Fund.
"Labor protest is not dead. Nor is it futile, according to Made in L.A., an excellent documentary about basic human dignity." - Andy Webster, New York Times
"Made in L.A. is a gem. It accurately portrays the lives and struggles of garment workers, and honors their development as leaders against sweatshop exploitation in a sensitive and poignant way." - Katie Quan, UC Berkeley Labor Center
"Better than any film I have seen, Made in L.A. depicts the real stories of women struggling for--and achieving--social justice for immigrant workers in the U.S. It is an essential film for educators interested in sharing with their students the struggle of immigrant workers in a globalized garment industry. A triumph." - Matthew Garcia, Professor, American Civilization, Ethnic Study, and History, Brown University
"Made in L.A. is a powerful documentary that reveals the shameful truth that sweatshops are thriving in our City of Angels. At the same time, this is an inspiring story of courage about immigrant women garment workers struggling for justice aga
DVD (Spanish and English with bilingual subtitles) / 2007 / 70 minutes
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By Du Haibin
The program of economic reforms initiated in China in 1978 by Deng Xiaoping aimed to finance the modernization of the nation. But what Communist Party leaders called "Socialism with Chinese characteristics" looked suspiciously to many as a return to capitalism. Today, some three decades later, the results of those sweeping economic reforms have become plainly visible in a country increasingly divided between its rural and urban sectors.
Filmed in five different regions of China, UMBRELLA provides a telling look at the vast changes that have taken place in Chinese society, including a massive migration from the countryside to the cities, the rise of a prosperous new class of businesspeople, millions of new college graduates competing for a shrinking number of jobs, and the neglect of China's largest population group, its rural peasants.
Filmed in a purely observational style, with no narration or commentary, UMBRELLA shows the workaday life of young employees in a factory in Zhongshan, Guangdong Province, where they engage in monotonous, endlessly and rapidly repeated routines to manufacture umbrellas, for which they are paid a meager piece rate. At a massive shopping mall, the "World's Largest Small Commodity Market," in Yiwu, Zhejiang Province, those multicolored, multipatterned umbrellas are sold at much higher prices by wholesale merchants, who are among China's nouveaux riche.
The film also shows throngs of young people filling out applications at a job fair in Shanghai or undergoing physical drills and ideological regimentation at a provincial garrison of the People's Liberation Army. Finally, on a farm in Luoyang, Henan Province, we watch a group of elderly farmers struggle to salvage a premature harvest of drought-impacted wheat.
UMBRELLA makes sadly apparent the old adage about "the rich becoming richer and the poor becoming poorer," with China's peasant farmers, who are struggling to survive amidst the combined forces of globalization and the new Chinese economy, bearing the brunt of the country's growing pains.
"Fascinating, if brutally depressing. It paints a decidedly different picture than the Chinese government would want you to believe." - Jeffrey M. Anderson, Combustible Celluloid
"In creating a vast societal portrait through his focus on umbrellas, Du pulls off the rare feat of capturing the ephemeral." - Jennique Mason, San Francisco Bay Guardian
DVD (Color) / 2007 / 93 minutes
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Directed by Dario Azzellini and Oliver Ressler
5 Factories provides a penetrating look at the Bolivarian socio-economic project designed to challenge the dominant neo-liberal development model. Since the election of Hugo Chavez in 1998, the Venezuelan government has implemented reforms to transform the nation into what Chavez and his supporters refer to as a form of democratic socialism. As a component of this economic transformation, the government has supported co-ownership initiatives in which workers' councils play a key role in company management. 5 Factories provides a unique perspective on the Bolivarian experiment, examining the successes and challenges of five companies rejecting traditional ideas of industrial management.
5 Factories takes the viewer inside factories producing aluminum, paper, cocoa, tomato sauce, and cotton. These factories, many of which had been driven into bankruptcy by their former owners, have been transformed into cooperative partnerships between the workers and the state in co-management arrangements. In many cases, the Chavez government nationalized the companies and provided the workers with loans to purchase them in this co-managent arrangement with the government. According to these agreements, the state will increasingly rescind control as the debt is repaid. State officials explain that, while the state is involved in the process, the goal is not to create a Soviet-style system, where the state owns the means of production. Such a system, it is pointed out, is not socialism at all, but rather state-capitalism, an altogether different project from that being created in Venezuela.
"The movie is artfully shot and poses important questions about the position of labor in capitalist society." - San Francisco Chronicle
"A rare glimpse at the development of a new labor movement in contemporary Venezuela. It puts to rest the idea of people simply following the dictate of a popular leader and instead demonstrates how workers are creatively pursuing new strategies and charting their own destiny." - Miguel Tinker Salas, Pomona College
DVD (Spanish with English subtitles) / 2006 / 81 minutes
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The Killer Bargain referred to by this hard-hitting documentary title is the availability of cheap consumer goods, imported by Western companies, whose prices don't reflect the actual human and environmental costs associated with their production in the developing world. Consumers remain largely unaware of the conditions under which the goods they buy are produced; this film makes those connections shockingly clear. While some retailers and manufacturers refuse to talk to the filmmakers, workers, doctors and scientists testify eloquently to the tremendous human costs of globalization.
The film takes as a case study the production of textiles in northern India, from the growing of cotton, through the dying of cloth to its final sale as towels and sheets in European and American stores. A Danish company, Cheminova, produces much of the pesticide used in the Punjab; while it saves crops from insects, however, these pesticides are known to cause cancer and have long been banned throughout the West. There are exponentially more pesticides found in the blood of Punjab farmers than in any other population in the world. Whereas in 1998 there was only one cancer clinic in the Punjaotton Belt? There were six by 2004. Representatives of Cheminova and Aarhus University, the largest stockholder in the company, have refused to review the filmmakers?documentation. The WHO has lobbied for decreasing the use of chemicals and for introducing protective measures. One Indian doctor denounces the purveyors of these pesticides as erchants of death, marketers of murder.
The film next moves to Panipat a leading textile producing center, where many retail chains buy their products. The filmmakers were able to gain access to the factory of GS Exports only by posing as an imaginary Scandinavian company, eautiful House.?There they find open tanks of fuming chlorine gas, banned in Europe for twenty years and used as a poison gas in World War I, aeapon of mass destruction.?GS Exports pays its workers less than $60 a month, including overtime; if they join a union, they are fired. Approximately 50 of the employees are children, and the workers are housed in sub-human conditions. Dansk Supermarked wouldn speak to the filmmakers but claims that, as a result of their investigations, they have suspended their contract with the factory. ICA, another large Scandanavian retailer, after watching the footage, claimed it would investigate immediately.
JYSK is the largest textile chain in Denmark, outstripping McDonald in growth. They buy from Kapoor Industries, a modern plant which discharges its waste water into ponds, polluting the surrounding farmland. The viewer watches as company security stops the filmmakers from shooting, and Kapoor executive director threatens them with beating, personally confiscating their tape. In its statement of corporate ethics, JYSK claims to be improving the environment but refuses to confront the filmmakers?evidence to the contrary.
An economist explains that, often, the availability of cheap consumer goods is due to fact that they were produced by underpaid workers in environmentally destructive plants. Some Indian textile suppliers use environmentally friendly techniques but, because their products cost marginally more, many western retailers shun their products for cheaper goods. Corporations, even those with stated commitments to buy from suppliers that respect their workers?rights and the environment, cannot be trusted to enforce these principles if their enforcement would result is a cost increase.
A Killer Bargain, like Black Gold, makes it clear that it is up to consumers to hold companies accountable for the conditions under which their products are produced - even if that means a slightly higher cost. An Indian economist points out that globalization may create work in the developing world, but often at the price of shortening workers?lives. An Indian doctor adds that we in the West should realize that the clothes we wear are often made at the expense of someone else life. The film ends with a quote from Gandhi: there is enough for everyone need but not enough for one man greed?
"See this film. A Killer Bargain is powerful, disturbing, and instructive. Consumers need to understand: we are complicit in poisoning the people who make what we buy. Understand, and act." - Joshua Cohen, Stanford University
"This is a searing human rights documentary unveiling corporations profiting from Indian textile production through the massive use of pesticides, which kill indigenous workers and destroy their environment. A Killer Bargain illuminates thoroughly and convincingly the dark side of globalization, one in which desperately needed jobs in the Third World cause the shortening of lives of many working poor.?" - Micheline Ishay, Director of the International Human Rights Program, University of Denver
"A powerful and illuminating examination of the human price of today's import market for cheaply made goods. Highly recommended." - Video Librarian
"cautionary tale of how cash crops like cotton have turned Third World countries into a toxic hell. A rallying cry for a new economic system where comparative advantage based on exploiting workers and the environment is replaced by a respect for human rights, workers rights and environmental protection.?" - Anuradha Mittal, Executive Director, Oakland Institute and co-author of Sahel: A Prisoner of Starvation?
PRIX ITALIA 2007
Ekofilm, Czech Republic
Agrofilm, Czech Republic
Festival International du Film d'Environement, France
Best Documentary, Ibiza International Film Festival
DVD / 2006 / 57 minutes
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Directed by Vicky Funari and Sergio De La Torre
Carmen Dur works the graveyard shift in one of Tijuana 800 maquiladoras; she is one of six million women around the world who labor for poverty wages in the factories of transnational corporations. After making television components all night, Carmen comes home to a dirt-floor shack she built out of cast-off garage doors from the U.S., in a neighborhood with no sewage lines or electricity. She suffers from on-the-job kidney damage and lead poisoning from her years of exposure to toxic chemicals. She earns six dollars a day on which she must support herself and her three children.
Starting in the 1980s the U.S. and Mexican governments initiated a trade agreement allowing components for everything from batteries, IV tubes, toys to clothes to be imported duty-free into Mexico, assembled there and then exported back duty-free as finished consumer goods for sale in the U.S. Tijuana became known as the television capital of the world, V-juana.Globalization promised jobs, and working class Mexicans uprooted their lives to flock to the northern frontier in search of better paying work. After a decades long boom in 2001, Tijuana suffered a recession as corporations chased after even cheaper labor in Asia.
When the Sanyo plant where Carmen worked for six years moved to Indonesia, they tried to avoid paying the legally mandated severance pay. Carmen became a promotora, or grassroots activist, challenging the usual illegal tactics of the powerful transnationals. Through sheer persistence, Carmen and her fellow workers won the severance pay to which they were entitled by law.
In making this documentary, the filmmakers worked collaboratively with the factory workers, providing cameras to the women and teaching them how to shoot. For five years the women documented their daily lives and the events in their communities, often giving the film the intimate tone of a video diary. Lourdes Lujan, another promotora, shows us her home, Chilpancingo, a barrio bisected by a stream which flows down from a bluff occupied by nearly 200 plants that expel hazardous wastes. Chief among these is Metales y Derivados, a long abandoned battery recycling factory whose U.S. owner relocated to San Diego in 1994 to avoid paying fines and clean-up costs, leaving behind 23,000 metric tons of toxic waste. Chilpancingo residents, downstream and downwind of the Metales site, began to suffer skin and respiratory problems and an abnormally high number of children with birth defects
With the backing of the San Diego Environmental Health Coalition, a cross-border group advocating for a safer environment, Lourdes and her neighbors launched complaints with numerous Mexican agencies, including the equivalent of the Environmental Protection Agency. The government apparent collusion with the polluters reminds Jaime Cota, a Tijuana labor leader, of a verse from Sor Juana de la Cruz: who is worse: the one who pays for sin or the one who sins for pay.?Describing themselves ironically as a ollective of busybodies,?and adopting the slogan, ijuana is no trashcan,?the Chilpancingo collective in 2004, after ten years of constant struggle, forced both the Mexican and American governments to begin a clean up of the Metales y Derivados site.
While Maquilapolis shows that globalization gives corporations the freedom to move around the world seeking cheaper labor and more lax environmental regulations, it also shows that organized workers can successfully demand that the laws be enforced. Thanks to her persistence in demanding severance pay, Carmen house now has concrete floors. And thanks to her new knowledge of labor rights, she has since taken another factory to the labor board for a violation similar to Sanyo; she hopes one day to go to school and become a labor lawyer. Globalization turns workers into a commodity which can be bought anywhere in the world for the lowest price. Yet they are more than a commodity; they are human beings who demand to be treated with dignity. As one of Carmen colleagues says, make objects and to the factory managers I myself am only an object, a replaceable part of a production process don't want to be an object, I want to be a person, I want to realize my dreams.
Maquilapolis can be screened in classes on International Studies, Labor Studies, Economics, Latin American Studies, Women Studies, Border Studies, Industrial Relations, Sociology, and Anthropology to introduce discussions of globalization impact on world labor. It will give a human face to the workers who are forced to find work as corporations seek out the cheapest labor possible. The film is entirely bilingual, with English or Spanish subtitles, as needed, so it can also be used to organize maquiladores workers to struggle for their rights.
"By making women themselves an integral part of the filmmaking process the director enables them to successfully tackle challenges many would consider hopeless. Refusing pity, these women exhibit a determination and faith in the future that can only be described as uplifting." - Jay Weissberg, Variety
"A portrait of the perils of globalization that admirably seeks new forms of expression...a stirring work that'll provoke genuine outrage. - The New York Times
"All who care about social justice, the environment, women rights and labor rights, should view this film. Maquilapolis should be screened in theaters, union halls, college campuses, and at the annual meeting of the World Social Forum. Many consider the U.S.-Mexico border to be he laboratory of the future.? In Maquilapolis the border is also the site where global capitalism is facing profound resistance. Maquilapolis is one of the most authoritative documentaries on cross-border organizing."Rosa-Linda Fregoso, Chair, Latin American/Latino Studies, University of California Santa Cruz
"Maquilapolis is a compelling look at the high, hidden costs of the global economy. It puts human beings front and center. This film is a must see!"Harley Shaiken, Professor, University of California, Berkeley
"Maquilapolis is a wonderful fusion of expose and imagination, delivering an unprecedented look into the realities of life in the border communities where the maquiladoras reign. Made in collaboration with the women whose lives center on these secretive factories, Maquilapolis succeeds in crossing borders and peering around corners to capture how the women caught in the contradictions of global capital understand their own positions. A key case study for anyone interested in transnational realities -- and subjectivities." - B. Ruby Rich, Community Studies Department & Social Documentation Program, University of California, Santa Cruz
"Argues not for special privileges but for a flicker of justice." - Richard Corliss, Time
"Anyone who's following the immigration debate should see this film for the reality check that it provides to the argument that investment in Mexico provides good jobs." - David D'Arcy, GreenCine Daily
"An old-fashioned story of potential, and of what can be accomplished through simple determination." - Martha Fischer, Cinematical
Winner of the 2007 Latin American Studies Association CASA Award of Merit in Film
DVD (Closed Captioned, Spanish and English with bilingual subtitles) / 2006 / 68 minutes
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Directed by Poul-Erik Heilbuth
Immigration is as hot button an issue across Europe as it is here. The Other Europe is a penetrating study of the economics and politics behind the immigration debate with revealing parallels to our own country. The film provides a cross-section of the immigrant experience, from fairly successful to disastrous, in Spain, Germany and England. It argues that Europe is putting out a contradictory message to immigrants: the economic system says we have plenty of jobs and will pay you more than you could ever earn at home; but the political systems warns we don't want you.
Running throughout the film is the dramatic re-enactment of the tragic but utterly predictable events which unfolded on February 4, 2004 on the tidal flats of Morecambe Bay, England. A group of illegal Chinese immigrants picking cockles (similar to a scallop), unfamiliar with the treacherous 30 foot tides, unable to understand the warnings of the English cocklers, became trapped in the freezing rising waters. Several had cell phones but rather than call the coast guard they called their families in China to say a final goodbye. Despite the efforts of more than two hundred rescuers, 23 died and only 9 survived, in the worst industrial accident in Britain for 25 years. The filmmakers travel undercover to China, because the authorities there want to hide the fact that so many people want to immigrate. They return to the roots of the story: a depopulated, destitute village where we meet the grieving families of the Morecambe Bay cocklers.
In Spain, greenhouses grow vegetables sold in every supermarket in Europe. They are picked mostly by illegal African workers. We meet one, Bokarova from Mali; nine people drowned when the rickety boat he took capsized on its way from Morocco. He now lives in a garage with 17 other people. He has been separated from his wife and daughter for five years and sends back 80% of his wages to his family. In fact, more money flows to the developing world through remittances from immigrants than from all the foreign aid from the West.
A Spanish grower and the director of a German factory admit that undocumented workers are essential to the prosperity of Western economies. A government official in Madrid says that, though Spain has 2,000,000 unemployed, its own workers are too highly educated to do agricultural labor and the law states you can force a person to work in a job below his skill level. A British economist points out that the situation is absurd and self-deceptive: immigrants should be admitted legally to do the jobs Europeans won't do, paid decently and extended social benefits.
Yet we hear politicians like Britain Tony Blair, catering to the electorate fears, brag they will cut illegal immigration in half. All efforts have failed; for every one worker Germany sends back, eight new ones arrive. As in this country, it is the destitute undocumented workers who are arrested and live in fear not the corporate executives who knowingly employ them.
Unlike most American coverage of the immigration issue, The Other Europe explains why undocumented workers are an integral part of Western economies. The film is an unambiguous call to stop the hypocrisy and political posturing and develop humane consistent policies for the foreigners who come to do the jobs we won't.
"The complexity of being powerless is brought to the fore by Europe's immigrants. Not wanted by much of society but needed by much of the eocnomy. Not fully authorized by the state but recognized by civil society. Even the most vulnerable immigrants are informal actors making history. Whole state bureacuracies have regeared their operations in fear of these immigrants." - Saskia Sassen, Territory, Authority, Rights
"llegal immigration is not just a problem in the United States. Migrants from Eastern Europe, Africa, and China move to Britain and Spain to fill the same types of jobs that Mexicans fill in the US. The Other Europe offers a stimulating look at these new migrants, focusing on the 23 Chinese who died harvesting shell fish in February 2004 and workers in southern Spain's greenhouses. The Other Europe provides a useful comparative lens for discussing migrant labor issues?" - Philip Martin, Chair, Comparative Immigration & Integration Program, UC Davis
"This fine film focuses both on the process and tragedy of undocumented immigration. It probes the tension between strong support for illegal immigration in the economic system, and growing opposition at the political level. It is an excellent tool for raising issues and generating discussion." - Martin Schain, New York University
DVD / 2006 / 58 minutes
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By Beth Bird
This award-winning documentary reveals the struggles of the citizens of Maclovio Rojas in Tijuana, Mexico as they battle the state government's attempts to evict them from their homes to make way for multi-national corporations seeking cheap land and labor. Filmmaker Beth Bird followed the fiercely determined residents for three years as they persistently petitioned the state for basic services like running water, electricity and pay for their teachers, only to be met with bureaucratic stonewalling. Eventually, several community leaders are targeted for persecution, and one is arrested while others are forced into hiding.
Balancing these stories of hardship, Bird also captures intimate scenes of daily life in Maclovio Rojas, revealing hard-won triumphs such as the building of a school by hand and the graduation of an elementary school class. This compelling and ultimately inspiring documentary is an eye-opening look at the human cost of globalization and a moving testament to the power of grassroots activism.
"...a return to unvarnished, passionate documentary filmmaking. EVERYONE THEIR GRAIN OF SAND is an engrossing look at issues of corporate power and international politics as they bear down on the lives of ordinary citizens. With a deceptive simplicity, this film captures the courage and resilience of those who rise up to 'fight the power.'"- Los Angeles Film Festival Target Documentary Award Jury
"stirring....a gorgeous demonstration of people power."- Chuck Wilson, LA Weekly
"a fascinating chronicle of community activism..."- Jonny Leahan, indieWIRE
"A unique and groundbreaking film, EVERYONE THEIR GRAIN OF SAND is the closest one can come to actually being in a poor urban neighborhood in Mexico- a remarkable accomplishment. It shows the searing Catch-22s of the intersections of struggles for survival with dignity among the poor, the politics of economic development along an international border, and the impacts of corruption and power politics among city and state leaders. Strongly recommended for courses in Latin American Studies, economic development, social movements, and comparative politics." - Vivienne Bennett, Border and Regional Studies, California State University, San Marcos.
"A gritty ethnographic tale about the struggles of community organizers in Tijuana, An excellent view of the way local politics and corruption work, and how popular solidarity can offer meaningful challenges to them..." -Nancy Postero, UCSD Anthropology
"Heartbreaking yet ultimately triumphant, EVERYONE THEIR GRAIN OF SAND reveals the ingenuity, tenacity, and courage of a community fighting for survival in the margins of globalization. Strongly recommended for courses in women and labor studies." -T. Kim-Trang Tran, Scripps College
"3 1/2 stars. Highly Recommended...Stirring...An engrossing film about the sometimes devastating human cost of economic globalization." -Video Librarian
Vienna Int'l Film Festival
Puerto Vallarta Film Festival
Brooklyn Int'l Film Fest
Museum of Modern Art, NY
One World Film Festival, Berlin
Human Rights Film Festival, Los Angeles
DocNZ Int'l Doc FF, New Zealand
Los Angeles Film Festival, Jury Award Best Doc
San Diego Int'l FF, San Diego Feature Film Award
Oxnard Int'l Film Fest, Festival Favorite Award
DVD (Color, With Spanish Subtitles) / 2005 / 87 minutes
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By Thomas Balmes
"The one and only social responsibility of business is to make profits."
- Milton Friedman, Nobel Prize in Economics
In an increasingly globalized economy, more corporations are 'outsourcing' their production to countries with cheaper labor costs and less legal protection of workers' rights. Some corporate managers, whether out of sincere moral concern or because they must respond to the considerations of investors and shareholders, are attempting to balance profit-making with social morality.
A DECENT FACTORY focuses on such an effort by Nokia, the Finnish electronics firm, which sends a team led by two business ethics advisors to examine conditions at a Chinese factory that supplies parts to Nokia. Filmmaker Thomas Balmes, having conducted three years of research on the subject, follows them on their investigative journey.
The film documents in fascinating detail their inspection of the plant, guided by its European and Chinese managers. During their tour the Nokia team investigates working and safety conditions, payroll records, and potential environmental hazards. They also conduct probing interviews with the factory managers as well as several of the young Chinese female employees who work and live in dormitories on the site.
The advisors' final report to Nokia managers, which exposes numerous violations of even the less stringent Chinese laws on minimum wage and working conditions, confronts Nokia with the dilemma now facing an increasing number of Western firms-how is it possible to balance the profit motive with a sense of social responsibility?
"Fascinating!" - Financial Times
"An in-depth analysis of the complexity of globalization and its famous practice of outsourcing. With his seemingly dispassionate approach, Thomas Balmes provides a pitiless document on a furiously modern world." - Telerama
"You must see it!" - Liberation
"Pick of the Day!" - The Guardian
"An honest, brutal and sometimes humorous look at the culture and climate surrounding today's business world as it collides with consumer desire for ethically-made products." - Chart Magazine
"Excellent!" - Le Figaro
"Globalization with an inhuman face. An excellent documentary." - Le Nouvel Observateur
"The filmmakers' direct cinema style mercilessly records the discomfort among British managers, who walk the tightrope between profit and law. The executives' initial frankness changes when they find out that the film is not solely intended for internal use. By this time, though, we are already haunted by the images of factory girls on an assembly line, putting together adapters day in and day out for less than the required minimum wage." - Amsterdam International Film Festival
"Fun!" - The Daily Telegraph
"Surprisingly entertaining!" - Pat Aufderheide, International Documentary
"A subtle, classic documentary drama." - European Documentary Network
DVD (Color) / 2004 / 79 minutes
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Director: Alexandra Lescaze
After a quarter century of struggle, mill workers in Kannapolis, North Carolina won the single largest industrial union victory in the history of the South.
Like most other industries in the South, Cannon Mills was sharply segregated until the 1960, and employment opportunities for African-Americans were limited to janitorial positions and other maintenance-type tasks outside the mills. As well, municipal services, the newspaper and even the police department were controlled by Charlie Cannon, the same man who owned the town and doled out the jobs.
An employee who was arrested for drunken and disorderly conduct might find himself without a job, and a suspected union organizer could count on being run out of town. Cynthia Hanes, a third-generation employee, remembers that her grandfather nearly lost both his job and his home simply for housing his brother, a union leader, during the General Strike of 1934.
In this atmosphere of intimidation, Cynthia and others explain, workers tended to submit more or less willingly to sub-standard working conditions, paltry pensions and, at times, outright harassment from company managers. For many of the film main characters, the degradation experienced by their parents and grandparents was an important catalyst ?one that would eventually prompt them to action.
Where Do You Stand: Stories From An American Mill is a haunting new documentary film about the rise and fall of an American town and the epic struggle of the people who live there. In the process it tells the story of dramatic changes in labor and demographics, in the nature of corporations, the rise of multinationals, and changes in the American South in the post-industrial age.
"Where Do You Stand presents the untold story of American textile workers, what they endured, and how they fought back. It is a sobering story but also an inspiring one. I hope it will be widely seen." - Howard Zinn
"This skillfully rendered film is essential viewing for all students of contemporary American history. It is an epic story of the search for human dignity. It is a tale of tragedy and triumph, courage and cowardice, victory and defeat." - Nelson Lichtenstein, Labor Historian, U.C. Santa Barbara
"This is an important film that should be shown in high schools, college campuses, and union halls across the country to remind us all to stick with the struggle and make it global. Where Do You Stand is a bittersweet story, beautifully told, about just how long and just how hard workers are willing to fight for the kind of economic and social justice only a union can bring." - Kate Bronfenbrenne Cornell University School of Industrial and Labor Relations
"ou will leave this film much wiser about the stark cruel reality facing workers who try to organize a union, and you will definitely want to do something about it! This film is a must see for law students and law professors with an interest in labor relations and/or employment law. "Judith A. Scott General Counsel of S.E.I.U.
"The drive for unionization was a struggle that was about more than money; the workers wanted fair working conditions and to be treated with respect riveting documentary and an excellent tool for both classroom instruction and for public programming." Educational Media Reviews Online
"The workers profiled set a new standard for courage and determination in their 25-year struggle for dignity on the job." -Bruce Raynor, President UNITE / H.E.R.E.
"What the men of wealth behind this system will never understand - and why they will ultimately be defeated - is the human spirit of people like those in Kannapolis. They shine through this film." - Maude Barlow, Chair Council of Canadians (Canada's largest citizen advocacy organization)
2006 Emmy Award Nominee!
2004 CINE Golden Eagle Winner!
DVD (Closed Captioned) / 2004 / 60 minutes
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Directed by SHU Haolun
This powerful documentary explores the cruel realities of sweatshop labor and workplace injury in China, and one lawyer's mission to defend worker's rights.
Shenzhen, one of China's most prosperous cities, attracts thousands of migrant workers every year. These workers come with dreams of opportunity and success, but many find themselves in dangerous working conditions with no regulations to protect them. STRUGGLE tells the story of three workers who lost their limbs in factory accidents that are all too common in China.
The workers describe 17-hour shifts that leave them exhausted while operating heavy machinery, leading to disaster. Management denies responsibility for the accidents, often refusing to pay medical bills or compensate injured workers. But a crusading lawyer takes on the bosses, leading to a groundbreaking lawsuit that changes workplace regulations in China.
STRUGGLE examines one of China's most crucial problems underlying its booming economic production: the lack of worker's rights. With first-person interviews and rare courtroom footage, director Shu Haolun explains the exploitive policies and practices of government officials and factory bosses, and how lawyer Zhou Litai has taken up the cause of worker's rights. STRUGGLE reveals the harsh realities of sweatshop labor in China, and shows the inspirational efforts of those seeking justice and reform.
DVD (Color, Mandarin with English subtitles) / 2001 / 50 minutes
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By Vivian Price
"This spirited documentary spotlights the experience of women in the building trades, specifically those women involved in the Century Freeway Women's Employment Project in Los Angeles. Framed by the story of a community-initiated lawsuit that resulted in hundreds of women getting trained to work on a billion-dollar freeway project, the film evolves into a primer on the feminist issues of equality, identity, and changing gender roles. Powerful testimonials by the women workers tell stories of the often unspoken gendered specifics of discrimination in the building trades: sexual harassment at the jobsite; negotiations about childcare and worker benefits; and the translation of affirmative action policy to the traditional practices of contractors and the historical conventions of the male worksite. The film demonstrates the importance of providing opportunity, embracing equity, and abandoning sexist traditions which deny talented women workers the right to support their families on a par equal with men. It also serves as a cautionary tale that warns that unless laws, policies, and conventions are changed, women workers may be forced out of their chosen professions, like the Rosie the Riveters, by bias and expediency." Joseph Boles, Northern Arizona University
"This documentary is well done, covering important issues for women and men in the construction industry. I urge members of the labor movement to view it." - Bob Balgenorth,President, State of California Building Trades Council, AFL-CIO
"Documents the struggles of women in a male dominated industry. Compelling interviews are seamlessly woven into a provocative and insightful analysis to make this one of the best documentaries on the working class seen in many decades." - Gilbert G. Gonzalez, Director, UC Irvine Labor Studies Program
"The women depicted in this documentary are strong, capable, take-no-bull kind of gals who have chosen a very untraditional professional and have proven themselves very capable of holding their own. It is an affirming film which leaves the audience with that 'Yeah, I can do anything!' feeling." - Laura Annibalini, Pittsburgh International Lesbian and Gay Film Festival Programming Director
"This engaging film makes the definitive case for why affirmative action is not just an issue of equity but an issue of social justice. It captures the complexities involved in securing economic justice for working class women in the so-called 'new economy.' 'Hammering it Out' is ideal for courses in women's studies, black and ethnic studies, labor studies, and the new emerging field of working-class studies. A must see film for anyone interested in social justice!" - Mary Margaret Fonow, Department of Women's Studies, The Ohio State University
Working Women's Conference
Southwest Labor History Conference
Silverlake Film Festival
Toronto and Vancouver Mayworks Labor Festival
NY, SF, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh Gay and Lesbian Film Festival
DVD (Color) / 2000 / 54 minutes
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By Marie France Collard
Focusing on Levi Strauss & Co., WORKING WOMEN OF THE WORLD follows the relocation of garment production from Western countries to nations such as Indonesia, the Philippines, and Turkey, where low wages are the rule and employee rights are nonexistent.
The film introduces us to women like Yanti, a 26-year-old Indonesian who works ten hours a day, six days a week, for $60 a month (the price of a pair of Levi's in Jakarta). Conditions at the factory are dreadful. There are five filthy toilets for 2000 women, and with no ventilation, the factory is an inferno. Any protest is met with immediate intimidation and increased surveillance until the offender quits.
WORKING WOMEN OF THE WORLD also presents the stories of her western counterparts who are losing their jobs. Maria Therese worked in the Levis factory in Yser La Basse, France, and was a union representative there. In interviews, she describes the work, the wage structure, and her negotiations with management and the government after the closure announcement.
Behind the new gospel of free trade are the real lives of women in the North and South. Filmed in Indonesia, the Philippines, Turkey, France, and Belgium, WORKING WOMEN OF THE WORLD puts these women's stories into the larger history and development of globalization.
"Informative... Exposes the treatment of garment production employees. The viewer will learn of the conditions which plague these women daily: low wages, strenuous schedules, ambiguous contracts, and the constant threat of job loss due to company relocation and/or closure." - Educational Media Reviews Online
DVD (Color) / 2000 / 53 minutes
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Directed by Noelle Dawn Smith
This DVD examines the world of New York City's hot-dog vendors, revealing their lifestyles, hopes and dreams, and the political struggle in which New York's Mayor Rudy Giuliani is attempting to restrict their access to the city's streets. It features interviews with a wide variety of vendors, and members of the city's Vendor Review Panel and Business Improvement District.
DVD (Color) / 1999 / 60 minutes
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By Eve-Laure Moros and Linzy Emery
In Thailand, women make up 90 percent of the labor force responsible for garments and toys for export by multinational corporations. This powerful, revealing documentary about women factory workers and their struggle to organize unions exposes the human cost behind the production of everyday items that reach our shores. Probing the profound impact of the New World Order on the populations that provide the global economy with cheap labor, "Made in Thailand" also profiles women newly empowered by their campaign for human and worker's rights. Several of these women are survivors of the 1993 Kader Toy Factory fire, one of the worst industrial fires in history. Today they are highly effective leaders in the grass-roots movement mobilizing workers in their recently industrialized country.
"...An eye-opener...showing us striking images of Thai women factory workers that totally contradict prevailing stereotypes and present instead a picture of strong, courageous defenders of human rights." - Michael Feinberg, Greater New York Labor-Religion Coalition
"For the past year, we have been on the lookout for materials that we can use to educate young people about economic issues--in particular, the consequences of 'globalization'. ' Made in Thailand', we believe, will be a useful tool in educating young people about such critical economic issues as child labor, sweatshops, and corporate responsibility." - Laura McClure, Educators for Social Responsibility
"An excellent portrayal of the lives of working women in Thailand...[it] will galvanize girls...to do something about the issue of sweatshop labor." - Cydney Pullman, Institute for Labor & the Community
DVD (Color) / 1999 / 30 minutes
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Directed by Maarten Schmidt & Thomas Doebele
Child labor is an emotional issue in the West. But families in the slums of Dacca, Bangladesh are so poor that any income, even the pittance paid to child workers, is necessary for survival.
Most children in the slums work in the "hidden child labor" circuit. They serve as domestics, collect recyclables, or work in cottage industries, often earning no more than room and board. Employers prefer children aged 8 to 12; they are old enough to work seriously and too young to protest miserable conditions.
Today's child laborers are tomorrow's uneducated adults. In 1996, the Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee (BRAC) started a 3-year primary course for Dacca's disadvantaged. The small schools are free, and provide a first step away from the vicious cycle of poverty.
THAT'S WHY I'M WORKING focuses on Ebrahimpur 3, a school at the edge of a slum in Dacca. Children here are introduced during the three-hour school day. The film also follows the children to their world outside school, to their homes and to work, where they behave almost like adults, fully aware of the importance of their contribution to the family income. Speaking in their own words, the children relate their worldviews, sharing their worries but also their dreams for the future.
"A deeply moving story... not so much because it is a familiar Dickensian tale of children trapped in poverty, but because the children themselves tell their stories in a fashion that leaves little margin for manipulation. Vividly revealed in this simplicity is the complexity of child labor in a country like Bangladesh. To a common Western eye ... there is little room for an interpretation of child labor as anything other than evil. Anybody who is inclined to see shild labor in this light ought to see this documentary before passing his/her preconceived judgement." - Education About Asia
"THAT'S WHY I'M WORKING illuminates multi-faceted and often contradictory views by correctly depicting the broad dimensions of the child labor issue in context. This film links these crucial issues with sociocultural, economic, and sociopolitical aspects from a multidisciplinary perspective." - Asian Educational Media Service, News and Reviews
DVD (Color) / 1999 / 53 minutes
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By Simone di Bagno
Each month over one million people reach the age of 60; those over the age of 80 are the fastest-growing segment of the global population. Some of these people will require care and support, but many more will be able to retain their independence, pride and productivity.
Shot on location around the world, this program comprises individual short stories of elderly people and the role they play in their respective societies: a fisherman in India; a grandmother in Uganda; an activist in Argentina; a dance teacher in Cambodia; a grandfather in Egypt and a volunteer in New York. PORTRAITS OF AGE shows how active and productive the senior citizen is today
DVD (Color) / 1994 / 29 minutes
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By Karen Kramer
For many years, the art of hand rolling cigars was an important industry in New York City, employing tens of thousands of workers of many nationalities. Today the craft is nearly forgotten. The city's last three cigar rollers demonstrate and explain the step-by-step process of making the cigar by hand, and the history behind their dying art.
DVD (Color) / 1990 / 13 minutes
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Directed by Luc Cote, Robbie Hart and Joel Bertomeu
Over half of the Latin American labor force works in the `informal economy,' creating their own forms of income and employment through hard work and ingenuity. This documentary celebrates the resourcefulness of impoverished people throughout the developing world for whom economic necessity is truly the mother of invention.
3 Stars Good "...entertaining...educational...of interest to children of junior high/high school age." - Video Rating Guide for Libraries
Silver Apple, National Educational Film and Video Festival
Certificate of Merit Award, Chicago International Film Festival
Bronze Plaque, Columbus International Film & Video Festival
DVD (Color) / 1990 / 23 minutes
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Director: Sturla Gunnarsson
Final Offer is the most comprehensive and candid look at collective bargaining on film. It takes viewers on an eye-opening journey behind the closed doors and into the smoke-filled rooms where labor and management negotiate.
The filmmakers follow Bob White, president of the Canadian UAW, through the landmark auto strike at General Motors. We look on as White strategizes with his advisors, fields the angry demands of his members, and makes offers, threats and counter-offers during marathon bargaining sessions. We share the caffeine-frayed nerves, the mind-numbing exhaustion and the salty language which are the stuff of collective bargaining.
The filmmakers also gained unrestricted access to GM's plants. They vividly capture the daily shopfloor skirmishes and tensions which comprise the subtext of labor negotiations. Remarkably, the filmmakers are even present when White and the chief GM negotiator strike a deal while riding the elevator.
Final Offer gives those on both sides of the table an intimate understanding of the hidden pressures which shape any labor negotiation.
"The best collective bargaining film ever made. Extremely informative and thorough. A captivating movie that points out the issues of the day." - Henry Katz, Cornell University
"Strap on your seatbelts. This backstage look at the GM contract talks has more intrigue, back-stabbing and double- crossing than Dallas or Dynasty. Don't miss it." - The Toronto Sun
"Vividly portrays the tension between company and union, and even within the union. Recommended for college and business management collections." - Choice
DVD / 1985 / 78 minutes
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Directed by Peter Schnall
Narrated by Martin Sheen
When the Coca Cola bottling plant in Guatemala City was abruptly closed in 1984, 460 workers lost jobs. The owners claimed bankruptcy, the workers cried foul play and refused to leave the plant. THE REAL THING tells the union's story, and of the ultimately successful year long occupation of the plant, as it examines the use of bankruptcy as a method to bust unions and the neglect of foreign responsibilities by U.S. based multinationals.
"THE REAL THING is one of the most important documentaries availableon Latin American labor issues." - Choice
DVD (Color) / 1984 / 36 minutes
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Director: Eric Breitbart
One hundred years ago American management faced many of the problems it confronts today - poor productivity, rapid technological change, and heightened competition. Clockwork shows how Frederick Taylor and his followers attempted to meet these challenges through "scientific management," a radical program to organize every aspect of production under a regime of quantitative measures and systematic planning.
Clockwork is the only film on Taylor's work and its continuing influence on the modern workplace. The film includes original historical footage which Taylor and his contemporaries, the Gilbreths, shot for the pioneering time-motion studies which paved the way for the modern automated assembly line and unskilled factory worker.
Clockwork shows how even the latest computer assisted design and manufacturing systems unwittingly incorporate Taylor's theories of production management. Today, many organizational theorists argue we must urgently challenge Taylor's legacy if America is to develop the participative workplace needed for the high value-added production of today's global economy.
"Extremely useful for students of management history and industrial engineering. An indispensable text." - George Strauss, University of California, Berkeley
"An historic film. A great piece of work...I recommend its purchase by any university or business school." - Charles Wrege, Academy of Management historian
"Generates a healthy discussion of 'scientific management'...American industry needs more such films." - David Shayt, Society of Industrial Archeology
DVD / 1982 / 25 minutes
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By Cliff Bestall & Michael Gavshon
Black workers under South Africa's system of apartheid produce that nation's wealth, while enjoying little of it.
PASSING THE MESSAGE is a film about the struggle to organize trade unions for black majority in the face of a vast entanglement of repressive government policies.
Three black union activists who we follow through their grassroots organizing efforts tell this story of courage and hope. Black trade unions, although legal since 1979, have had to register and operate under state control. Some unions have refused to comply. These unions have been opening a new chapter in the struggle for justice in South Africa, a chapter revealed in PASSING THE MESSAGE.
"Anyone interested in the new black trade unions must see PASSING THE MESSAGE. Far and away the best way to understand this crucial new development." - Sandy Boyer, American Committee on Africa
DVD (Color) / 1981 / 47 minutes
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