Working for a Living: Labor on Film
How does work define us? Do we work for a living or live for our work? What happens to our identities when we can’t work anymore? This year, the UVM film series explores the idea of labor through office comedies (Office Space), quirky documentaries (Fast, Cheap, and Out of Control), and consciousness-raising political films (Salt of the Earth and The Front). From union laborers to white collar workers and from wage slaves to independent operators, explore the cinematic world of work with Vermont film lovers and UVM professor David Jenemann. See you at the salt mines!
The UVM Film Series is a membership-based program in partnership with the UVM’s Lane Series, Film and Television Studies, and Fleming Museum of Art. Join fellow film-lovers for screenings, stimulating discussions, and special guest speakers throughout the year.
January 23, 2014:
Office Space (Mike Judge, 1999)
A comedic tale of company workers who hate their jobs and decide to rebel against their greedy boss.
February 20, 2014:
Salt of the Earth (Herbert J. Biberman, 1954)
Based on an actual strike against the Empire Zinc Mine in New Mexico, the film deals with the prejudice against the Mexican-American workers, who struck to attain wage parity with Anglo workers in other mines and to be treated with dignity by the bosses. The film is an early treatment of feminism, because the wives of the miners play a pivotal role in the strike, against their husbands wishes. In the end, the greatest victory for the workers and their families is the realization that prejudice and poor treatment are conditions that are not always imposed by outside forces. This film was written, directed and produced by members of the original “Hollywood Ten,” who were blacklisted for refusing to answer Congressional inquiries on First Amendment grounds. Written by Bob Shields.
March 20, 2014:
Fast, Cheap & Out of Control (Errol Morris, 1997)
What do an elderly topiary gardener, a retired lion tamer, a man fascinated by mole rats, and a cutting-edge robotics designer have in common? Both nothing and everything in this unconventional documentary directed by Erroll Morris. Fast, Cheap & Out of Control (Referring to the robot specialist’s strange philosophy of robot design structure, not Erroll Morris’s documentary techniques!) interplays, overlaps, and interrelates these four separate and highly specialized documentary subjects in order to in truth study all of humanity, raising questions about the future of mankind. Written by Matthew F. Griffin.
April 17, 2014:
The Front (Martin Ritt, 1976)
A cashier poses as a writer for blacklisted talents to submit their work through, but the injustice around him pushes him to take a stand