Los Angeles Filmforum presents Views of Labor
Sunday Aug 1, 2010, 7:30 pm
Los Angeles Filmforum presents Views of Labor:
The Los Angeles Premiere of
A BIENTOT J'ESPERE (Be Seeing You) A Film by Mario Marret and Chris Marker
AN INJURY TO ONE, by Travis Wilkerson
On the 93rd anniversary of the murder of Frank Little
At the Egyptian Theatre, 6712 Hollywood Blvd. at Las Palmas, Los Angeles
AN INJURY TO ONE provides a correctiveand absolutely compellingglimpse of a particularly volatile moment in early 20th century American labor history: the rise and fall of Butte, Montana. Specifically, it chronicles the mysterious death of Wobbly organizer Frank Little, a story whose grisly details have taken on a legendary status in the state. Much of the extant evidence is inscribed upon the landscape of Butte and its surroundings. Thus, a connection is drawn between the unsolved murder of Little, and the attempted murder of the town itself. Little was murdered on August 1, 1917. Filmforum brings back Travis Wilkerson's masterful documentary in commemoration.
Preceding AN INJURY TO ONE is the Los Angeles Premiere of a Chris Marker film from 1968! À BIENTÔT, J'ESPÈRE offers an inspiring look back at a time when workers, faced with intolerable conditions and job losses resulting from the nascent globalization of the European common market, took a stand. Marker and Mario Marret filmed the 1967 strike at the Rhodiaceta textile mill in Besançon, France.
A BIENTOT J'ESPERE (Be Seeing You) (1968; 43 min., b&w, film transferred to video)
A Film by Mario Marret and Chris Marker
In the spring of 1967, workers at the massive Rhodiaceta textile mill in Besançon, France, walked off the job. It was no ordinary strike. The month-long work stoppage was about more than just wages, it addressed the workers' rights to a decent life. Political and cultural concerns were effectively merged.
From 1967 to 1976 Chris Marker was a member of SLON (the "Company for the Launching of New Works"). One of several groups that emerged in those years, in which filmmakers, militants, and others came together to focus in a cooperative and parallel basis on the problems of movie production, SLON was based on the idea that cinema should not be thought of solely in terms of industry and commerce.
So it was only natural that Chris Marker, along with other technicians and members of SLON, would visit Besançon to document the strike, and the lives and attitudes of the workers.
Management went on to sack 92 militants at the end of the year and resorted to lockouts, so that the majority of workers eventually went back to their jobs with few concrete gains. But the strikers had developed a sense of the potential power of labor and had helped lay the groundwork for May of 1968, when France would be rocked by revolutionary protests. The film's most important moments are composed of conversations with workers and their wives in their homes. They believe the working class is increasingly at the mercy and disposition of the system, a system that gives them no power, a system that would like them to remain powerless. And so it was that their local demands grew to questions about the larger political system.
First released in 1968, Marker's piercing film is an extraordinary document of a pivotal moment in European labor history. This is the first time the film has been subtitled in English.
An Injury to One (2002, 53 min, color/b&w, 16mm)
Butte's history was entirely shaped by its exploitation by the Anaconda Mining Company, which, at the height of WWI, produced ten percent of the world's copper from the town's depths. War profiteering and the company's extreme indifference to the safety of its employees (mortality rates in the mines were higher than in the trenches of Europe) led to Little's arrival. "The agitator" found in the desperate, agonized miners overwhelming support for his ideas, which included the abolishment of the wage system and the establishment of a socialist commonwealth.
In August 1917, Little was abducted by still-unknown assailants who hung him from a railroad bridge. Pinned to his chest was a note that read 3'-7'-77", dimensions of a Montana grave. Eight thousand people attended his funeral, the largest in Butte's history.
The murder provides AN INJURY TO ONE with a taut, suspenseful narrative, but it isn't the only story. Butte's history is bound with the entire history of the American left, the rise of McCarthyism, the destruction of the environment, and even the birth of the detective novel. Former Pinkerton detective Dashiell Hammett was rumored to have been involved in the murder, and later depicted it in Red Harvest.
Archival footage mixes with deftly deployed intertitles, while the lyrics to traditional mining songs are accompanied by music from William Oldham, Jim O'Rourke, and the band Low, producing an appropriately moody, effulgent, and strangely out-of-time soundtrack. The result is a unique film/video hybrid that combines painterly images, incisive writing, and a bold graphic sensibility to produce an articulate example of the aesthetic and political possibilities offered by filmmaking in the digital age.
"An astonishing document: part art and part speculative inquiry, buzzing with ambition and dedication. Takes us from the 19th century to the eve of the 21st, from Butte as land of frontier promise to Butte as land of death and environmental destruction. He wields avant-garde graphics and archival ephemera like a lasso, and his shots of modern-day Butte are allusive still-lifes that defy time and place. This is stirring, must-see stuff."Austin Chronicle
"A deft, ambitious exercise in old-school socialist agitprop crafted with the precise mulitmedia flair of a corporate Powerpoint presentation, Travis Wilkerson's AN INJURY TO ONE retells the gritty class struggles of the previous century through smoothly contemporary digital means."The Village Voice
"The most exciting documentary of the season. Passionate, persuasive, and beautifully designed, AN INJURY TO ONE is a model of coherent political filmmaking as convincing in its liberalism as its formalism."The New York Sun
"Wilkerson's austere technique radically responds to the paucity of contemporaneous documentary accounts, performing a powerful act of historical archaeology and reclaiming for the working class its status as subject, not a footnote, of historical events. Wilkerson makes these ghostly historical agents palpable and vocal, asserting the relevance of their story to struggles of today and tomorrow." Sundance Film Festival
Big Sky Award, 2004 Big Sky Documentary Film Festival
2004 Society for Cinema & Media Studies Film Series
Screening Committee's Choice for Narrative Integrity, 2003 Ann Arbor Film Festival
2003 Sundance Film Festival
2003 Full Frame Documentary Festival
2002 Margaret Mead Film Festival
Gold Prize, 2002 Big Muddy Film Festival
This screening series is supported, in part, by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors through the Los Angeles County Arts Commission and the Department of Cultural Affairs, City of Los Angeles. Additional support generously provided by the American Cinematheque.
For the screenings at the Egyptian Theater:
Parking is now easiest at the Hollywood & Highland complex. Bring your ticket for validation. Parking is $2 for 4 hours with validation. Enter that complex on Highland or Hollywood. The theater is 1.5 blocks east.
Spielberg Theater at the Egyptian
6712 Hollywood Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90028
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|Dog Friendly: No|
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