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LABOR: Globalization, Labor and Women's Lives
 
What drives the global economy? This diverse collection uncovers the connections between the experiences of women on a local level to broader economic patterns worldwide. From sex work to sustainable wages, these films tackle some of today’s most relevant issues and highlight the ways women are mobilizing to make changes in their lives.

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films in this collection

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Amazon Sisters
A film by Anne-Marie Sweeney

AMAZON SISTERS portrays the vision and strength of women surviving in the hotly contested Amazon rainforests. While international attention has focused on saving the rainforests, considerably less attention has been paid to the plight of the human inhabitants of Amazonia. Women are at the frontline of the struggle to save their environment and to rebuild a region suffering the effects of inappropriate development. “A film which beautifully expresses the strength, humor and ability of the women of the Amazon Region. It sharply reminds us, however, that simply feeling romantic about rainforests isn’t enough. More


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Apache 8
A film by Sande Zeig

For 30 years, the all-female Apache 8 unit has protected their reservation from fire and also responded to wildfires around the nation. This group of firefighters, which recently became co-ed, soon earned the reputation of being fierce, loyal and dependable—and tougher than their male colleagues. Facing gender stereotypes and the problems that come with life on the impoverished reservation, the women became known as some of the country’s most elite firefighters. From director Sande Zeig and executive producer Heather Rae (Cherokee), APACHE 8 combines archival footage and present-day interviews and focuses primarily on four women from different generations of Apache 8 crewmembers, who speak tenderly and often humorously of hardship, loss, family, community and pride in being a firefighter. More


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Bringing It All Back Home
A Sheffield Film Coop Production
Directed by Chrissie Stansfield


This fascinating documentary analyzes how the patterns of international capital investment and the exploitation of Third World women workers in free trade zones are being brought home to the First World. Issues discussed include: the internationalization of local economies, the growing schism between the rich and poor and the changing nature of women's work. More


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Dish
Women, Waitressing and the Art of Service

A film by Maya Gallus

Why do women bring your food at local diners, while in high-end establishments waiters are almost always men? DISH, by Maya Gallus, whose acclaimed More


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Escuela
(School)

A documentary by Hannah Weyer

There are over 800,000 students enrolled in migrant education programs in the United States and, of those, only 45-50% ever finish high school. ESCUELA, the sequel to Hannah Weyer’s critically acclaimed documentary LA BODA, personalizes these glaring statistics through the honest portrait of a teenage Mexican-American farm worker, Liliana Luis. More

A 2003 Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) Selected DVD for Young Adults

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Europlex
A film by Ursula Biemann and Angela Sanders

The fourth in Ursula Biemann's critically acclaimed series of video essays that investigates migration across borders, EUROPLEX, a collaboration with Angela Sanders, tracks the daily, sometimes illicit, border crossings between Morocco and Spain- a rare intersection of the first and third worlds. Paying off officials to look the other way, workers smuggle contraband across the border, sometimes crossing up to 11 times a day. In a now common scenario of global economics, Moroccan women work in North Africa to produce goods destined for the European market. More


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Everyone Their Grain of Sand
A film by Beth Bird

This award-winning documentary reveals the struggles of the citizens of Maclovio Rojas in Tijuana, Mexico as they battle the state government’s attempts to evict them from their homes to make way for multi-national corporations seeking cheap land and labor. Filmmaker Beth Bird followed the fiercely determined residents for three years as they persistently petitioned the state for basic services like running water, electricity and pay for their teachers, only to be met with bureaucratic stonewalling. Eventually, several community leaders are targeted for persecution, and one is arrested while others are forced into hiding. More

Los Angeles Film Festival, Jury Award Best Doc
San Diego Int'l FF, San Diego Feature Film Award

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Ferry Tales
A film by Katja Esson

Academy Award Nominee for Best Documentary Short, FERRY TALES exposes a secret world that exists in the powder room of the Staten Island Ferry--a place that brings together suburban moms and urban dwellers, white-collar and blue-collar, sisters and socialites. For 30 minutes every day, they gather around mirrors to put on their makeup – talking not as wives, mothers, or professionals, but just as themselves. Sassy and honest, they dish on everything from sex scandals to stilettos, family problems to September 11th, leaving stereotypes at the door and surprising viewers with their straight-shooting wisdom. More

Underdog Film Festival - First Place
Academy Award Nominee for Best Short Doc.

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Hammering It Out
A film by Vivian Price

“This spirited documentary spotlights the experience of women in the building trades, specifically those women involved in the Century Freeway Women's Employment Project in Los Angeles. Framed by the story of a community-initiated lawsuit that resulted in hundreds of women getting trained to work on a billion-dollar freeway project, the film evolves into a primer on the feminist issues of equality, identity, and changing gender roles. Powerful testimonials by the women workers tell stories of the often unspoken gendered specifics of discrimination in the building trades: sexual harassment at the jobsite; negotiations about childcare and worker benefits; and the translation of affirmative action policy to the traditional practices of contractors and the historical conventions of the male worksite. More


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Hell to Pay
A film by Alexandra Anderson and Anne Cottringer

A moving and politically sophisticated analysis of the international debt situation through the eyes of the women of Bolivia, the poorest country in Latin America. Although most directly affected by government austerity programs, peasant women are assumed not to understand the workings of international capital and foreign policy. HELL TO PAY poignantly contradicts such assumptions as teachers, textile workers and miners’ wives speak vividly and with great comprehension of the causes of the debt crisis and the burden they are forced to bear. More


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Highway Courtesans
A film by Mystelle Brabbee

This provocative coming-of-age film chronicles the story of a bold young woman born into the Bachara community in Central India – the last hold-out of a tradition that started with India’s ancient palace courtesans and now survives with the sanctioned prostitution of every Bachara family’s oldest girl. Guddi, Shana and their neighbor Sungita serve a daily stream of roadside truckers to support their families. Their work as prostitutes forms the core of the local economy, but their contemporary ideas about freedom of choice, gender and self-determination slowly intrude on the Bachara way of life. More

Chicago Int'l FF, President's Jury Award
Galway Film Fleadh, Best Feature Documentary

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La Boda
(The Wedding)

A film by Hannah Weyer

In an intimate portrait of migrant life along the U.S.-Mexican border, Hannah Weyer’s new film LA BODA delves into the challenges faced by a community striving to maintain their roots in Mexico, while pursuing the “American Dream” across the border. Weyer’s camera follows Elizabeth Luis during the weeks before her marriage to Artemio Guerrero, interweaving the anticipation of the upcoming wedding with candid stories that explore the architecture of the Luis family. For 22-year-old Elizabeth, migrant life has meant shouldering responsibilities beyond those of an average young adult. More


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Love, Women and Flowers
A film by Marta Rodriguez and Jorge Silva

At any time of year in the U.S., carnations of every color are plentiful and cheap – but the ready availability of these beautiful flowers comes at a global price. Thousands of miles away from the bright displays in U.S. stores, hazardous labor conditions endanger the 90,000 women who work in Colombia’s flower industry. More


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Made In India: SEWA in Action
A film by Patricia Plattner

This powerful documentary is a portrait of SEWA, the now-famous women's organization in India that holds to the simple yet radical belief that poor women need organizing, not welfare. SEWA, or the Self-Employed Women's Association, corresponds to the Indian word sewa, meaning service. Based in the western Indian city of Ahmedabad, a dusty old textile town on the edge of the Gujarati desert, SEWA is at its core a trade union for the self-employed. It offers union membership to the illiterate women who sell vegetables for 50 cents a day in the city markets, or who pick up paper scraps for recycling from the streets--jobs that most Indian men don't consider real work. More


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Made In Thailand
A film by Eve-Laure Moros and Linzy Emery

In Thailand, women make up 90 percent of the labor force responsible for garments and toys for export by multinational corporations. This powerful, revealing documentary about women factory workers and their struggle to organize unions exposes the human cost behind the production of everyday items that reach our shores. Probing the profound impact of the New World Order on the populations that provide the global economy with cheap labor, MADE IN THAILAND also profiles women newly empowered by their campaign for human and worker's rights. Several of these women are survivors of the 1993 Kader Toy Factory fire, one of the worst industrial fires in history. More


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Nalini by Day, Nancy by Night
A film by Sonali Gulati

In this insightful documentary, filmmaker Sonali Gulati explores complex issues of globalization, capitalism and identity through a witty and personal account of her journey into India’s call centers. Gulati, herself an Indian immigrant living in the US, explores the fascinating ramifications of outsourcing telephone service jobs to India—including how native telemarketers take on Western names and accents to take calls from the US, UK and Australia. More

Rosebud Film & Video Festival, Festival Award
Humboldt Int’l Film Festival, Ledo Matteoli Award

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Pain, Passion and Profit
A film by Gurinder Chadha

From the director of Bend it Like Beckham and Bride and Prejudice, PAIN, PASSION AND PROFIT is an inspirational look at women entrepreneurs through the eyes of the Body Shop founder, Anita Roddick, who has always maintained a strong commitment to the idea of “profits with principles.” Several women in Africa who have successfully developed small-scale business enterprises in their own communities provide a focus for Roddick to pose questions about how the role and status of women affects their enterprises and how those enterprises provide a means of community and economic development for women. More


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The Peacekeepers and the Women
A film by Karin Jurschick

Winner of the Arte-Documentary Award for Best German Documentary, this chilling investigation examines the booming sex-trafficking industry in Bosnia and Kosovo, and boldly explores the disturbing role of the UN peacekeeping forces and the local military in perpetuating this tragic situation. More


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Performing the Border
A film by Ursula Biemann

A video essay set in the Mexican-U.S. border town of Ciudad Juarez, where U.S. multinational corporations assemble electronic and digital equipment just across from El Paso, Texas. This imaginative, experimental work investigates the growing feminization of the global economy and its impact on Mexican women living and working in the area. Looking at the border as both a discursive and material space, the video explores the sexualization of the border region through labor division, prostitution, the expression of female desires in the entertainment industry, and sexual violence in the public sphere. More

Biennale of the Image in Movement, St. Gervais, Geneva, Palmeres Award

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The Phantom of the Operator
A film by Caroline Martel

This wry and delightful found-footage film reveals a little-known chapter in labor history: the story of female telephone operators’ central place in the development of global communications. With an eye for the quirky and humorous, Caroline Martel assembles a dazzling array of clips – more than one hundred remarkable, rarely seen industrial, advertising and scientific management films produced in North America between 1903 and 1989 by Bell and Western Electric – and transforms them into a dreamlike montage documentary. More


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Remote Sensing
A film by Ursula Biemann

In Biemann’s latest video, she traces the routes and reasons of women who travel across the globe for work in the sex industry. By using the latest images from NASA satellites, the film investigates the consequences of the U.S. military presence in southeast Asia as well as European migration politics. This video-essay takes an earthly perspective on cross-border circuits, where women have emerged as key actors and expertly links new geographic technologies to the sexualization and displacement of women on a global scale. By revealing how technologies of marginalization affect women in their sexuality, REMOTE SENSING aspires to displace and resignify the feminine within sexual difference and cultural representation. More


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Scarlet Road
A film by Catherine Scott, Produced by Pat Fiske

Impassioned about freedom of sexual expression, Australian sex worker Rachel Wotton specializes in a long overlooked clientele— people with disabilities. Working in New South Wales—where prostitution is legal— Rachel’s philosophy is that human touch and sexual intimacy can be the most therapeutic aspects to our existence. Indeed, she is making a dramatic impact on the lives of her customers, many of whom are confined to wheelchairs or cannot speak or move unaided. Through her graduate studies and her nonprofit group Touching Base, Rachel both fights for the rights of sex workers and promotes awareness and access to sexual expression for the disabled through sex work—and brings together these two often marginalized groups. More


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Señorita Extraviada, Missing Young Woman
A film by Lourdes Portillo

SENORITA EXTRAVIADA, MISSING YOUNG WOMAN tells the haunting story of the more than 350 kidnapped, raped and murdered young women of Juárez, Mexico. Visually poetic, yet unflinching in its gaze, this compelling investigation unravels the layers of complicity that have allowed for the brutal murders of women living along the Mexico-U.S. border. In the midst of Juárez’s international mystique and high profile job market, there exists a murky history of grossly underreported human rights abuses and violence against women. The climate of violence and impunity continues to grow, and the murders of women continue to this day. More

Sundance Film Festival - Special Jury Prize
Academy of C.A.S.-Mx.- Ariel, Best Mexican Doc.

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Skydancer
A film by Katja Esson

Renowned for their balance and skill, six generations of Mohawk men have been leaving their families behind on the reservation to travel to New York City, to work on some of the biggest construction jobs in the world. Jerry McDonald Thundercloud and his colleague Sky shuttle between the hard drinking Brooklyn lodging houses they call home during the week and their rural reservation, a gruelling drive six hours north, where a family weekend awaits. Their wives are only too familiar with the sacrifices that their jobs have upon family life. While the men are away working, the women often struggle to keep their children away from the illegal temptations of this economically deprived area. More


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Some Real Heat
A film by Stefanie Jordan

SOME REAL HEAT explores the small and relatively new world of female firefighters in San Francisco and their upward climb to gain access to a male-dominated field. Armed with axes, chainsaws, muscle, heart and determination, six daring women demonstrate how they single-handedly turn gender roles upside down by putting their lives on the line everyday in one of the riskiest jobs around. As they passionately talk about the tools of the trade, overcoming their fears and helping others, they reveal the fascinating history of women fire fighters and the gender bias that barred them from officially entering the U. More


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Tea & Justice
NYPD's 1st Asian Women Officers

A film by Ermena Vinluan

TEA & JUSTICE chronicles the experiences of three women who joined the New York Police Department during the 1980s—the first Asian women to become members of a force that was largely white and predominantly male. In this award-winning documentary, Officer Trish Ormsby and Detectives Agnes Chan and Christine Leung share their fascinating stories about careers and personal lives, as well as satisfactions and risks on the job, the stereotypes they defied, and how they persevered. More

Queens International Film Festival, Best Documentary
Sacramento Film & Music Film Festival, Audience Award: Best Documentary




Trade Secrets
A film by Stephanie Antalocy

Perfect as a training tape or as an historical look at labor issues in the 1980s, TRADE SECRETS has been purchased by hundreds of colleges, libraries, community and women's groups. “An ironworker, a sprinkler fitter, and an electrician; all women who describe their jobs and the physical and personal obstacles they overcame to get where they are. In the 1970’s, because of jobs with new equal employment laws, women began to enter the construction trades challenging the traditional male world. Regarded with hostility and suspicion, not all women completed their apprenticeships to be fully qualified as journey women. More


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Transnational Tradeswomen
A film by Vivian Price

Inspired by organizers at the Beijing Conference on Women in 1995, former construction worker Vivian Price spent years documenting the current and historical roles of women in the construction industry in Asia – discovering several startling facts. Capturing footage that shatters any stereotypes of delicate, submissive Asian women, Price discovers that women in many parts of Asia have been doing construction labor for centuries. But conversations with these women show that development and the resulting mechanization are pushing them out of the industry. Their stories disturb the notion of “progress” that many people hold and show how globalization, modernization, education and technology don’t always result in gender equality and the alleviation of poverty. More

CINE Golden Eagle Award

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The Trickle Down Theory of Sorrow
A film by Mary Filippo

Veteran experimental filmmaker Mary Filippo tackles issues of work, class and gender roles in this visually captivating and provocative autobiographical piece. At the core of this engaging autobiographical piece is an interview with Filippo’s mother, as she recounts incidents of exploitation and gender discrimination she experienced working in jewelry factories in the 1940’s and 50’s. The filmmaker contrasts her mother’s quiet acquiescence with her own attitudes about social injustices of her culture through a striking montage of images and audio clips—moving the viewer to consider connections between consumerism and global labor practices, motherhood, money and happiness. More


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Troubled Harvest
A film by Sharon Genasci and Dorothy Velasco

This award-winning documentary examines the lives of women migrant workers from Mexico and Central America as they work in grape, strawberry and cherry harvests in California and the Pacific Northwest. Interviews with women farm workers reveal the dangerous health effects of pesticides on themselves and their children, the problems they encounter as working mothers of young children, and the destructive consequences of U.S. immigration policies on the unity of their families. Featuring an interview with Dolores Huerta, co-founder of the United Farm Workers Union. More





Women of Steel
A film by Mon Valley Media

For women who entered the nation's steel mills in the 1970s, the mill was a ticket out of traditionally low-paying "women's jobs" and in some cases, out of poverty. But any gains for women were short lived. WOMEN OF STEEL looks at a turning point in the history of American industry and the disastrous effects widesweeping layoffs and plant closings had on women and families, affirmative action plans, and the union movement. An important historical documentary which has an eerie relevance to women's place in the American economy today. More





New Directions: Women of Zimbabwe
A film by Joanne Burke

From award-winning documentarian Joanne Burke's series about women's empowerment in developing countries, WOMEN OF ZIMBABWE focuses on a group of five daring women who have taken up the challenge of creating their own future in the traditionally male field of carpentry. At its center is Fatima Shoriwa, an inspiration to many of her countrywomen. Owner of a thriving carpentry business, she also openly advocates education, family planning, safe sex practices, and economic self-sufficiency for women. The group's other four members are Fatima's apprentices, who range in age from seventeen to twenty-three. More


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Women Organize!
A film by Joan E. Biren, Union Institute Ctr. for Women & Women and Organizing Documentation Project

WOMEN ORGANIZE! is an inspirational, half hour video that portrays women organizers across the U.S. who are involved in the global struggles for racial, social, and economic justice. In this video, we meet five women organizers of various backgrounds, peek at the campaigns they wage, and watch as they begin to pick up the tools to document their own transformative work. From working with high schools girls in a low-income neighborhood in Oregon to speaking out for Black lesbians and gays against homophobia or working with Asian immigrant women factory workers in California for decent working conditions, WOMEN ORGANIZE is an important video that should be used in women’s and ethnic studies classes and community based organizations. More


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Writing Desire
A film by Ursula Biemann

"Ursula Biemann’s WRITING DESIRE is a video essay on the new dream screen of the Internet and how it impacts on the global circulation of women’s bodies from the third world to the first world. Although under-age Philippine 'pen pals' and post-Soviet mail-order brides have been part of the transnational exchange of sex in the post-colonial and post-Cold War marketplace of desire before the digital age, the Internet has accelerated these transactions. Biemann provides her viewers with a thoughtful meditation on the obvious political, economic and gender inequalities of these exchanges by simulating the gaze of the Internet shopper looking for the imagined docile, traditional, pre-feminist, but Web-savvy mate. More




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Equity in Education


The films in this essential collection inspire social change in education. Learn about the role and impact of Title IX, examine gender disparities in math and science, and follow the personal story of an insightful high-school student whose life has been shaped by busing and school integration. See the full collection here.

Behind the Lens:
Women in Cinema

This extraordinary collection features titles that celebrate the lives and achievements of immigrants in the U.S. and explore ongoing struggles of immigrants today.

Shooting Women

As directors, producers, actors, and screenwriters, women have utilized the power of film to create and transform their stories and images. From sexual politics as a cinematic subject in SUFFRAGETTES IN THE SILENT CINEMA and as a cinematographic choice in FILMING DESIRE to interviews with women directors around the globe in SHOOTING WOMEN and SISTERS OF THE SCREEN, this collection presents a look at women’s crucial contributions to cinema’s history and global reach.


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Women Make Movies is a multicultural, multiracial, non-profit media arts organization which facilitates the production, promotion, distribution, and exhibition of independent films and videotapes by and about women. contact us