2013 DC Labor FilmFest
October 11–17

Organized and presented by the Metropolitan Washington Council of the AFL-CIO, the Debs-Jones-Douglass Institute and the American Film Institute, the 2013 DC Labor FilmFest boasts an array of new films and beloved classics about work and workers, from the American office to the far-flung factories of the global economy. For more information, visit dclaborfilmfest.org.

AFI Member passes accepted.


At junior high school I.S. 318 in Brooklyn, New York, it isn't sports or music that reigns supreme among the students—it's the game of chess. With 26 national championship titles won by the school, chess is for some of them a way to a better future. This documentary follows five of these remarkable young adults who share their stories while engaged in fierce competitions around the country. With severe budget cuts looming in the wake of the recent financial crisis, the driven students, along with their dedicated teachers and coaches, fight to keep the program alive. (Note courtesy of AFI-Discovery Channel Silverdocs.)

DIR/PROD Katie Dellamaggiore; PROD Nelson Dellamaggiore, Brian Schulz. US, 2012, color, 101 min, Blu-ray. RATED PG


Fri, Oct 11, 5:00; Mon Oct 14, 5:15


The complexity of the nation's public health care system is etched in intimate detail in this poignant vérité portrait of an American public hospital and the community of patients and caregivers that intersect with it. The ER waiting room in Oakland's Highland Hospital serves as the backdrop to an encounter with a diverse community of largely uninsured patients—a young victim of gun violence, small business owners, international asylum seekers—alongside an indefatigable staff charged with caring for them. Although seemingly about one hospital, this documentary serves as a microcosm for the national health care landscape marked by historic economic and political dysfunction. (Note courtesy of AFI-Discovery Channel Silverdocs.)

DIR Peter Nicks; PROD Lawrence Lerew, Linda Davis, William B. Hirsch. US, 2012, color, 81 min, Blu-ray. NOT RATED

Presented in cooperation with the National Nurses Union & Fire Fighters Local 36


Fri, Oct 11, 7:15


Director Alexander Mackendrick had already made his comedy reputation with his directorial debut WHISKY GALORE! (aka TIGHT LITTLE ISLAND) in 1949; this follow-up effort is notable for having a sharper satirical edge than many of the comedies then produced at the Ealing Studios. Amateur inventor Alec Guinness wizards up a wondrous fabric that can't wear out or stain. And that's not all: this miracle-worker manages to unite the garment industry's ownership and labor—in aggressive opposition to his invention—as both sides close ranks to discredit him as a crackpot and destroy his formula before it destroys their livelihood. Mackendrick would later go on to his biggest success in Hollywood with an even more acid-drenched film, noir classic SWEET SMELL OF SUCCESS.

DIR/SCR Alexander Mackendrick; SCR Roger MacDougall, John Dighton; PROD Michael Balcon. UK, 1951, b&w, 85 min, DCP. NOT RATED


Sat, Oct 12, 11:00 a.m.; Wed, Oct 16, 6:30 (Montgomery College Show)


There was a time when storefronts, murals, banners, barn signs, billboards and even street signs were all hand-lettered with brush and paint. But, like many skilled trades, the sign industry has been overrun by the techno-fueled promise of quicker and cheaper. The resulting proliferation of computer-designed, die-cut vinyl lettering and inkjet printers has ushered a creeping sameness into the landscape. Fortunately, there is a growing trend to seek out traditional sign painters and a renaissance in the trade. Filmmakers Faythe Levine and Sam Macon document the fascinating and colorful stories of more than two dozen of these dedicated practitioners, their time-honored methods and their appreciation for quality and craftsmanship.

DIR/PROD Faythe Levine, Sam Macon. US, 2013, color, 90 min, Blu-ray. NOT RATED

Presented in cooperation with Painters District Council 51


Sat, Oct 12, 1:00

50th Anniversary!

Nominated for an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay, this film gives Marcello Mastroianni one of his best roles, as a late-19th-century labor leader orchestrating a strike at a Turin textile plant. With an exquisite handling of period, the film had a sizable impact when it came out in 1963, though it's been curiously neglected ever since. "Arguably one of the great Italian films of the 1960s, it cries out for rediscovery." –Jonathan Rosenbaum.

DIR/SCR Mario Monicelli; SCR Agenore Incrocci, Furio Scarpelli; PROD Franco Cristaldi. Italy/France/Yugoslavia, 1963, b&w, 130 min, 35mm. In Italian with English subtitles. NOT RATED

Presented in cooperation with AFSCME


Sat, Oct 12, 3:00; Tue, Oct 15, 5:15


Director Seán Ó Cualáin investigates the engrossing story of "Lunch Atop a Skyscraper," the iconic photograph taken during the construction of the RCA Building (now the GE Building) at Rockefeller Center that depicts eleven workmen taking their lunch break while casually perched along a steel girder, 850 feet above the ground. For decades, this image has captivated imaginations the world over. But who are these men? And where did they come from? Each step in this compelling documentary deepens the mystery while shedding light on the lives of ordinary workers in the throes of the Great Depression.

DIR Seán Ó Cualáin; PROD Eamonn Cualáin. Ireland, 2012, color, 67 min, Blu-ray. NOT RATED


Sat, Oct 12, 2:45


The inspiration for this year's Tony-winning musical, this film is based on the true story of a traditional Northampton shoemaker who turns to producing fetish footwear in order to save the failing family business and the jobs of his workers. British actor Chiwetel Ejiofor won a fistful of awards for his portrayal of Lola, a female impersonator who consults with the company on boot design and models its products, all the while contending with homophobic factory workers, including Don, the reigning arm-wrestling champion in a local pub, who discovers respect in the inevitable elbow-to-elbow showdown with Lola.

DIR Julian Jarrold; SCR Geoff Deane, Tim Firth; PROD Nick Barton, Peter Ettedgui, Suzanne Mackie. US/UK 2005, color, 107 min, 35mm. RATED PG-13

Presented in cooperation with Actors' Equity and IATSE Local 22


Sat, Oct 12, 4:30; Thu, Oct 17, 5:15


Domestic. Shop girl. Waitress. Cook. Those were the jobs for women in the 1930s—when they could get work. The U.S.'s entry into World War II created an unprecedented demand for new workers. Notions of what was proper work for women changed overnight and Rosie the Riveter became the symbol of working women during World War II. Discovering a new sense of pride and dignity in their work, many women joined unions and, for the first time in history, black women gained entry into major industrial plants. When the war was over, Rosie wanted to stay. But neither the structure of the American economy nor the dominant view of women's place in society sustained such hopes. Their story is told by the women themselves—five former "Rosies" who movingly recall their histories working in Detroit, Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco, their testimony interwoven with rare archival recruitment films, stills, posters, ads and music from the period, which contrast their experiences with the popular legend and mythology of Rosie the Riveter.

DIR/PROD Connie Field. US, 1980, b&w/color, 65 min, Blu-ray. NOT RATED

Presented in cooperation with UnionPlus Credit Card and the Alliance for American Manufacturing


Sun, Oct 13, 12 noon


In this smart, insightful documentary, filmmaker Dawn Porter sheds light on the plight of one of the country's most valuable and unsung warriors: the public defender. Following a small group of dedicated public defenders in the South, the film highlights the daily battles they face within a flawed legal system where a defendant's very life can be on the line. Overworked and underpaid, with little support, these committed individuals sacrifice a great deal in the name of justice. (Note courtesy of AFI DOCS.)

DIR/SCR/PROD Dawn Porter; SCR Matthew Hamachek; PROD Nancy Abraham, Jacqueline Glover, Julie Goldman, Summer Damon. US, 2013, color, 96 min, HDCam. NOT RATED


Sun, Oct 13, 1:30

THE WOMEN ON THE 6TH FLOOR [Les femmes du 6ème étage]

A stellar cast serves up a riotous upstairs/downstairs comedy in Philippe Le Guay's charming box office hit, demonstrating that people of different social classes, living under the same roof, can affect each other's outlooks and lives. The farce contrasts the values of a stereotypical Parisian bourgeois businessman (Fabrice Luchini) with the equally stereotypical dignity and earthy humor of migrant domestic workers from Spain (Natalia Verbeke and Sandrine Kiberlain). A warm-hearted delight.

DIR/SCR Philippe Le Guay; SCR Jérôme Tonnerre; PROD Etienne Comar, Philippe Rousselet. France 2010, 106 min, 35mm. In French and Spanish with English subtitles. NOT RATED


Sun, Oct 13, 3:30

MY PIECE OF THE PIE [Ma part du gâteau]

After losing her job at a local factory in the port city of Dunkirk, a single mother (Karin Viard) enrolls in a housekeeper training program, soon landing work cleaning the Paris apartment of a handsome but cocky power broker (Gilles Lellouche), who happens to be the one responsible for the layoffs at her factory. The late Roger Ebert called it "a film about the everyday ways in which the markets deal in abstract numbers without the slightest interest in the lives that might be affected." Director Cédric Klapisch (L'AUBERGE ESPAGNOLE, RUSSIAN DOLLS) shows that there are consequences, even for Masters of the Universe.

DIR/SCR Cédric Klapisch. France, 2011, color, 109 min, Digibeta. In French with English subtitles. NOT RATED


Sun, Oct 13, 5:40