1997 Labor Film Series
All films shown at the Eastman House Dryden Theater, 900 East Avenue
Friday, October 3
THE DEER HUNTER (Michael Cimino, US, 1978, 183 min.)
Robert De Niro, Christopher Walken, and John Savage play a trio of small-town Pennsylvania steelworkers sent to fight in Vietnam. The dangerous and grueling work of the steel mill is played against the horrors of war in the first film to address the social and psychological dislocations wrought by the conflict. The Deer Hunter won a fistful of Academy Awards and renewed interest in the dramatic epic form.
Friday, October 10 Rochester Premiere
LAMERICA (Gianni Amelio, Italy/France, 1995, 120 min. Italian with subtitles) When Communism falls in Albania, an unscrupulous Italian businessman arrives to grab the spoils. He needs an Albanian as figurehead for his fraudulent maquila-like company, and selects a half-crazy, barely intelligible old man. However, the puppet slips from his manipulator and fast-paced satire gives way to an odyssey and a moral awakening. Winner of numerous international awards, LAmerica portrays, with passion and grace, the exploitation rampant in a Europe in moral eclipse.
Friday October 17
VIVA ZAPATA! (Elia Kazan, US, 1952, 113 min.) Marion Brando is superb as Emiliano Zapata, the revolutionary leader who waged civil war not to conquer Mexico but to free the land for his people. Kazan’s film captures the sweep and complexity of the Mexican Revolution and weaves into its fabric a strong warning against abuse of power. Viva Zapata suggests that permanent vigilance is necessary to avoid the tendency toward corruption inherent in individuals and the social systems by which they live.
Friday, October 24 Rochester Premiere
THE MATCH FACTORY GIRL (Aki Kaurismäki, Finland, 1989, 70 min. Finnish with subtitles) The title character is Ins, a blank-faced victim who is exploited at the factory, bullied by her grasping mother and greedy stepfather, and mistreated by a succession of men — until her passive acceptance of her fate turns to grim determination. Kaurismäki's darkly humorous tale of a jilted woman who changes her “work” handles with equal starkness murderous escapades and the monotony of workaday existence. Also, Kaurismäki’s THE TOTAL BALALAIKA SHOW! (1993, 56 min.), a sendup for the collapse of the Soviet Union, with songs of the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan and the Beatles, all rendered unrecognizable by the Leningrad Cowboys and the Alexandrov Red Army Chorus.
Friday, November 7
THE MAN IN THE WHITE SUIT (Alexander Mackendrick, UK, 1951, 84 min.) A barbed satire on the incompatibility of commerce and philanthropy, this proletarian comedy stars Alec Guinness as an eccentric chemist whose creation of a revolutionary new fabric threatens to unravel the calm and sanity of the British textile industry. Fabric magnates, organized labor, and even mild-mannered launderers converge on the befuddled inventor in an attempt to bury his discovery, which they fear will render all their jobs obsolete.
Friday, November 14
LADYBIRD, LADYBIRD (Ken Loach, UK, 1994, 102 min.) Winner of the Berlin Film Festival International Critics Award and the Best Actress Award for Crissy Rock’s searing debut performance, Ladybird, Ladybird chronicles the violent life of Maggie, a welfare mother who wages an emotional fight for the custody of her children. Ken Loach’s potent drama, inspired by real events, demonstrates the conflicted and overburdened reality of social work in a dismantled welfare state.
Friday, November 21 Rochester Premiere
MAC (John Turturro, US, 1992, 118 min.) Niccolo “Mac” Vitelli, played by Turturro, is one of three Italian-American brothers living in Queens, New York, in the 1950s. A skilled and uncompromising carpenter. Mac convinces his siblings to go into business as house builders, an enterprise that leads initially to exhilaration and eventually to frustration and dissolution — but never disillusion. Twelve years in the making, this labor of love is a respectful homage not only to director Turturro’s father but also to an entire generation of working people. Winner of the distinguished Camera d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival, MAC is a rare American commercial film that earns rather than insists on its strong moral vision.