Monday, 24 November 2008

Our list of films is long

Here is a rough working list of films that we are interested screening. We'll add details, link to information and make additions to the films listed here:

Blue Collar, 1978 Paul Schrader
The Spook Who Sat by the Door - feature by Ivan Dixon, 1973
Harlan County USA - Barbara Kopple 1976
Tatooed Life - Seijan Suzuki
Pitfall - Hiroshi Teshigara, 1962
Various docs - Frederick Wiseman
Grunwick Affair doc -
Pressure - Horace Ove
Sir, No, Sir - doc on Vietnam refusnik soldiers, David Zeiger, 2005 and
Les Hommes du port, Alain Tanner (1995)
WorkingMans Death
Do buy Dubai - short Documentary on Dubai lots of good interviews
Megacities - as above but global
Chop Shop - 2004? film on LA 12year old stakhanovite mechanic/hustler
Salt of the Earth (Union of Mine and Smelter) US Heroic Labour film 1950s
on Mexican mining labour organising - proposed by audience member)
A Man is Not a bird - Dusan Makavejev (lyrical film about Yugoslavian mining town by the director more famous for W.R. Mysteries of the Organism good on worker bureaucracy/theft at work/aristocracy of labour
match factory girl by Kaurismaki)
time out by Laurent cantet
Blue Collar, feature on Detroit auto-workers in the 1980s
Harlan County usa by Barbara Kopple
Frederick Wiseman's docs
Pressure by Horace Ove (1st UK black filmmaker's feature - on kid's search
for work and radicalisation through defeat/disaffection with work) Stewart Home review
documentary 'Workingmans Death' (2005), which is about the non-
disapearance of dangerous, all too material labour,
Seafarers (2004) documentary on sea-faring labour by Jason Massot -

Useful Libcom list of workerist films:

The list of films is from the book Desde que los Lumière filmaron a los obreros: el mundo del trabajo en el cine written by published by Nossa y Jara Editores, S.L. «Madre Tierra» connected to the CNT in Madrid.

This is where things get slightly insane, we have no interest in showing all these films nor producing a comprehensive or encyclopedic programme of films about work, nonetheless if anyone is interested in doing so or wanted to research this subject the resources are here for you. Good luck to ya. a

Saturday, 8 November 2008


by Giuseppe de Santis

Date: Sunday 23 November, 2008
Time: 6 PM, film at 6.30 PM sharp!

Location: Pullens Centre, 184 Crampton Street - off Walworth Rd - Elephant and Castle SE17

**** ******* ***********
Bitter Rice is a classic of Italian neorealist cinema. Made in 1949, it is set amongst the mondine, the women rice pickers that every year migrated to the Po Valley from the rest of Italy to work in the rice paddies. Touching upon themes of work, struggle and the changing nature of resistance in post-war Italy, it is also a film rich in melodrama and love intrigue.

"Bitter Rice seems the closest that Italian popular culture of the immediate postwar years gets to making a film about class rather than national unity, about struggling against your class enemy rather than the foreign Nazi. What makes Bitter Rice different is the suggestion that Italy's future will not depend on providence alone but on a class based political struggle to be carried out in the present, within Italian society, against the land owning bosses. In other words, the national war must be followed and completed by the class war. Althought the military struggle is over, another much more domestic struggle remains against the enemy within. It is not fought by the military this time, but by the emerging proletarian masses. In fact, once the soldiers vacate the barracks house, their military function now complete, the rice pickers immediately occupy their place."
(from "Antifascism - cultural politics in italy 1943-46" by D. Ward)

Thursday, 16 October 2008

Free Film Screening - Time Out

Full Unemployment Cinema - Free Film Screening

Date: Sunday 26 October, 2008
Time: 4.00pm

Location: The Pullens Centre, Crampton St, SE17

Programme: Time Out / L'Emploi du Temps by Laurent Cantet

I don't feel like a militant, but I'm involved in the world and what's happening. My films show feelings about things, not ideals. They're not very didactic, but Time Out is quite radical in its political meaning because it's revolutionary to try to think of a world without work. What would that world be like? I don't think the world can be without work, but I think some people who won't ever find their place in work should be allowed to live without work. I think people could choose to work for a while, then take a while to just think about what they want to do.
– Laurent Cantet on Time Out interviewed by Manohla Dargis, L.A. Weekly Writern, April 19, 2002.

Time Out explores the alienation of work and the terrifying extent to which work and identity have collapsed into one another. The film draws partly on the case of Jean-Claude Romand, a doctor for the World Health Organization, who killed his wife and their two children, shot his parents, swallowed a bottle of sleeping pills, and torched his tony suburban Geneva mansion. Romand, it turned out, had never been a doctor, much less worked for the WHO. For 18 years, he had kept up the deception, piling lie upon lie until the money ran out – which is when he decided to take his family's life, as well as his own. Cantet: 'he preferred to kill them rather than be judged by them'.

Though less extreme than its real life inspiration, Time Out is a study of the haunted, paranoid life of a middle manager going through the motions. Vincent, spends his days and occasional nights touring the French highways, pretending to be employed. Vincent has lost his executive position, the kind that's provided his wife and three children a comfortable suburban house and a well-upholstered middle-class life, but he hasn't yet told anyone he's been cut loose. Initially, his silence comes across as evidence of shame and perhaps even moral cowardice, but as the story unwinds and Vincent puts more miles on his new life, it becomes clear that he doesn't fear life without work; he embraces it. What seemed pathetic now takes on the edge of rebellion – the man who wasn't there, it turns out, didn't want to be there at all.

Adapted from: and

Laurent Cantet, Time Out / L'Emploi du Temps (2001) 129 minutes.

Photograph of Serge Livrozet, former prison activist who plays Jean Michel in the film

Saturday, 4 October 2008

The Working Class Goes to the Cinema

We've kicked off a series of films about work, non-work, slavery, shirking, sabotage, striking and more with two screenings, firstly of a film by Stewart Bird, Rene Lichtman and Peter Gessner produced in Association with the League of Revolutionary Black Workers, Finally Got the News followed by a talk by former Ford Halewood worker Brian Ashton, secondly we screened Elio Petri's The Working Class Goes to Heaven and Harun Farocki's Workers Leaving the Factory. We'll be continuing with more films and discussion SUNDAY 19th OCTOBER 2008 and approximately monthly thereafter. Watch this space for news of the coming programme

Friday, 19 September 2008

The Working Class Goes to Heaven

Second in a series of free film screenings about going to work and going beyond it

Date: 19 September, 2008 Time: 7.00pm for 7.30pm start
Location: The Pullens Centre, Crampton St, SE17

Programme: Workers leaving the Factory by Harun Farocki followed by The Working Class Goes to Heaven by Elio Petri.

I was a piecework laborer, I followed the politics of union, I worked for productivity, I increased output, and now what have I become? I’ve become a beast, a machine, a nut, a screw, a transmission belt, a pump!

The Working Class Goes to Heaven:

Steeped in the volatile political conflicts taking place in Italy at the time, the Hot Autumn of 1969, the rejection of the compromises of the Italian communist Party (PCI), the refusal of work, factory and university occupations, Elio Petri's film The Working Class Goes to Heaven explores the struggles in the factory in all their contradictions; between consumerism and work, alienation, libidinal desire, self-destruction and, potentially, collective action. The Working Class Goes to Heaven demonstrates an impressive and inspiring illustration of the exploitation of capital society and the alienation of workers under this system. It showed us how the ruling class manipulates the ideology into people’s mind by alienating them through work, and how the workers are exploited with and without being conscious of that. Furthermore, it also gives us a sketch of the futility of reformism and the issues which will be confronted in the process of revolution. [borrowed from:]

Elio Petri, The Working Class Goes to Heaven/La Classe Operaia va in Paradiso (1971) 111 min.

Workers leaving the Factory:

Workers Leaving the Factory - such was the title of the first cinema film ever shown in public. For 45 seconds, this still existant sequence depicts workers at the photographic products factory in Lyon owned by the brothers Louis and Auguste Lumière hurrying, closely packed, out of the shadows of the factory gates and into the afternoon sun. Only here, in departing, are the workers visible as a social group. But where are they going? To a meeting? To the barricades? Or simply home? These questions have preoccupied generations of documentary filmmakers. For the space before the factory gates has always been the scene of social conflicts. And furthermore, this sequence has become an icon of the narrative medium in the history of the cinema. In his documentary essay, Harun Farocki explores this scene right through the history of film: 'I have collected images from several countries and many decades expressing the idea "exiting the factory", both staged and documentary - as if the the time has come to collect film-sequences, in the way words are brought together in a dictionary.' Harun Farocki quoted from [arttorrents:] ">Harun Farocki, Workers leaving the Factory/Arbeiter verlassen die Fabrik (1995) 36 min.

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

Finally Got The News reading material

Compiled by Unterschreber

Finally Got the News Saturday, June 28, 8pm, £0 The Pullens Centre, 184 Crampton St, Elephant & Castle, London SE17 Rare screening of documentary (dir. Steward Bird, Rene Lichtman, Peter Gessner) on the League of Revolutionary Black Workers, from wildcat movement to formidable independent workers organization, inside and outside the auto factories of insurgent turn-of-the-'70s Detroit.

Shot as the events were happening, the film features interviews with participants and footage from inside the plants. With speaker Brian Ashton, ex-car industry shop steward. Below are brief descriptions (with URLs) of six online texts, which combine to form a sort of virtual 'reader' expanding on the content of the film. The first three deal directly with the the Detroit events, their historical background and immediate aftermath. The last three go further into the surrounding questions of class struggle, racial politics and industrial production and its evisceration.

1 & 2. Martin Glaberman, Black Cats, White Cats, Wildcats: Auto Workers in Detroit; Dan Georgakas & Marvin Surkin, extract from Detroit: I do Mind Dying: a Study in Urban Revolution (one url for both texts). Historical account by Glaberman of class composition in the Detroit car industry leading up to the events around DRUM/ELRUM/League of Revolutionary Black Workers. Followed by excerpt from the book Detroit: I Do Mind Dying (republished by South End Press, 2004), including a detailed and critical statement by John Taylor, a white Appalachian auto worker involved in the struggles.

3. A. Muhammad Ahmad, 1968-1971: the League of Revolutionary Black Workers. Narrative of the League's genesis, activity and breakdown. Ahmad gives another version of many of the same events covered in the Georgakas/Sukin book, which he attacks for 'grossly distorting the history', also criticising the film Finally Got the News and the movement's highest-profile 'intellectual'/administrative leaders. The criticism comes from an explicitly black nationalist standpoint, but Ahmad also denounces 'the inability of the out-of-plant leaders to relate their theory to Black workers' reality, failure on their part to listen to and learn from the workers and to treat them as equals'. The intellectuals eventually ordered all members into Political Education classes; underlying the ideological split over 'the capitalist exploitation model and the colonial model', claims Ahmad, were unresolved 'social contradictions' between the college-trained 'Marxist-Leninists' and the shop floor workers.

4. James Boggs, Pages from a Negro Worker's Notebook. Short book often cited as DRUM/LRBW influence, published in 1963 after Boggs broke with CLR James' Facing Reality group. Historical survey emphasises workers' struggle beyond and against unions; precocious futurecasting sections imagine a proletariat fully deindustrialized by military keynsianism-driven 'automation', with the resulting mass unemployment and race-category breakdown supposed to be a devastating and/or revolutionary force. Unworldly as the optimistic bits can sound today, there's no question about US capital's state-sponsored rush to deindustrialize, with the Detroit plants gutted and GM floundering in its core business as a health insurance/pensions fund.

5. Ferruccio Gambino, The Transgression of a Laborer: Malcolm X in the Wilderness . Essay by a former Potere Operaio militant, using FBI files to trace the metamorphoses of Malcolm X's mortal enmity towards the racial state, focusing on his life as a labourer before, during and after prison (when he became a 'grinder' at Gar Wood, Detroit).

6. Ferruccio Gambino, A Critique of the Fordism of the Regulation School. In which Gambino pulls apart the 'Fordism/postfordism' stereotype of industrial production, arguing that 'Fordism' in the only meaningful sense was defeated by the US industrial working class by 1941. Myths surrounding 'Toyotism', 'just in time' production and 'globalism' are also neatly skewered.

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

Finally Got the News

This was the first screening of the series

Free Film Screening - Finally Got the News

A forceful, unique documentary that reveals the activities of the League of Revolutionary Black Workers inside and outside the auto factories of Detroit.

With a talk with former Ford Halewood worker and activist, Brian Ashton

Brian's talk wasn't recorded, but here is a link to an audio recording of a similar talk he gave in Liverpool with Ritchie Hunter:

When: Saturday 28th June, 7-11pm
Where: The Pullens Centre, 184 Crampton Street, Elephant and Castle, SE17

About the film:
Watch film online:
Download via torrent: