World Wide Work - December 2010
|This holiday edition of the free bulletin, World Wide Work, is published by the American Labor Education Center, an independent nonprofit founded in 1979.|
WORLD WIDE WORK
Me, Too (Yo, Tambien). From Spain comes this highly unusual, well-made feature film that focuses
on two characters – the first person with Down’s Syndrome to graduate from a
Spanish university, and his office mate at his first job, an attractive but
unhappy woman. The film carefully dodges predictable clichés as their
relationship develops and we learn more about their respective pasts.
La Mission. In this feature film full of sympathetic and
appealing characters, a tough Latino single father in San Francisco reacts with
rage when he discovers that his teenage son is gay. His understanding of his
son and of domestic violence evolves through interactions with neighbors,
friends, and family.
Udaan. A young man in India wants to become a writer, but
his authoritarian and even abusive father demands that he start working his way
up to take over the family steel- making business. This memorable 134-minute feature
film is an example of new Indian cinema that transcends Bollywood clichés to
deal with real cultural issues.
Temple Grandin. The true story of an autistic girl who grew up to be
a successful agricultural engineer is told in this effective two-hour feature
film that shows what the world looks and feels like from her point of view.
Harvest of Loneliness. Policymakers in Washington, DC continue to consider a
so-called “guest worker” program that would bring cheap labor from Mexico and
other countries into the U.S., with no right for the workers to become citizens
once their temporary work contract is completed. An hour-long documentary, in
both English and Spanish versions, reviews the history of the bracero program
that fulfilled a similar function from 1942 to 1964. Interviews with former braceros
and their families, along with stunning photos gleaned from archival research, reveal
the human cost of the temporary worker policy. The film brings the issue up to
date, describing how so-called “free trade” agreements have destroyed
agriculture in Mexico and forced millions of people to come to the U.S. to find
Out of the Silence. Two men living in the Washington, DC area placed an announcement of
their wedding in the newspaper of the small town of Oil City, PA, where one of
them was raised. The controversy this caused prompted them to do an hour-long
documentary about the situation of gay and lesbian teens and adults in that
town. The filmmakers are encouraging organizations in small towns and rural
areas across the U.S. to use the film to spark discussion.
year, an Australian photographer spends a week on Lake Eyre, a salt flat so
huge that when he takes his cameras and camping gear out on it, he can’t see
anything else in any direction. He compiled an hour-long film that combines
time-lapse video footage, still photos, and recordings of his own musings
during his time in isolation.
Rebel Rank and File edited by Aaron Brenner,
Robert Brenner, and Cal Winslow (Verso). Many young people today have heard
about movements from the 1960s to the early 1980s involving civil rights, women’s
liberation, environmental protection, equality for gays and lesbians, opposition
to the Vietnam War, and more. But few know that during that same period there
was a widespread upsurge among workers in many industries, challenging
corporate interests as well as old guard union leaders. Thousands of workers
engaged in illegal strikes, slowdowns, and other militant actions that are hard
to imagine in today’s climate. In this important collection of essays, authors
with a range of leftist ideological leanings describe the upheavals that took
place in a variety of industries. For the most part, they make a real effort to
be honest and thoughtful, to avoid romanticizing, and to explore what could
have been done differently so that the greatest worker rebellion since the
1930s might have had more lasting impact.
Seaside Dreams by Janet Costa Bates and Lambert Davis (Lee
& Low). This charming children’s book focuses on the mutually supportive
relationship between a young girl and her grandmother, an immigrant to the U.S.
from Cape Verde.
Land Sharks by S.L. Stoner (Yamhill). The second in an
historical mystery series centered around Portland, Oregon, this sequel to Timber Beasts describes the practice of shanghaiing – in which working men were kidnapped and forced to work on
Let Freedom Sing by Vivian B. Kline (Outskirts
Press). In this innovative historical novel, a group of high school students
conducts research on the experience of African Americans in the Reconstruction
period after the Civil War. The students hope to develop a musical centered on
the first Fisk University Jubilee Singers. In the process, they learn a great
deal about many of the key historical figures of that time, including Frederick
Douglass, Susan B. Anthony, Mary Todd Lincoln, P.T. Barnum, and many more.
Postville U.S.A. edited by Mark Grey, Michele Devlin, and Aaron
Goldsmith (Gemma). A small town in rural Iowa was home to the nation’s largest
kosher meatpacking plant until a raid by federal immigration authorities resulted
in the arrest of one-fifth of the town’s residents. Two professors and a former
city council member lay out lessons they think other towns should learn from
Postville’s experience with diversity.
East Eats West by Andrew Lam (Heyday). The author, who
emigrated to the U.S. from Vietnam with his family when he was a child,
explores the interaction of Asian and North American cultures in this
collection of short nonfiction stories.
The Verso Book of Dissent edited by Andrew Hsiao and
Andrea Lim (Verso). 325 pages of short quotations are drawn from people from
all over the world who have challenged the established order, from ancient
Egypt to the present day. It could be useful as a reference book and to point
the reader to the full texts.
Greening Modernism by Carl Stein (W.W. Norton). A professor delves
into the details of what it will take to make our buildings energy efficient
and sustainable. As one example, he compares the sustainability of retrofitting
a school building with skylights vs. converting to electricity from solar
panels or wind turbines.
Holly Happy Days by Indigo Girls
(Vanguard). A combination of original songs and traditional holiday tunes,
backed by top-rate bluegrass musicians.
Le Noise by Neil Young (Reprise). Fans of Young won’t be disappointed by
this solo collaboration with producer Daniel Lanois. “Some see life as hope
eternal, some see life as a business plan,” Young sings. “Some will go to
hell’s inferno, for screwing up life in freedom land.”
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