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"The movie pretty much chronicles three woman over three years as they struggle to balance their lives and continue the fight for their rights in the garment factories. It's powerful what they all go through, the lives they live, families they support. I got teary eyed whenever they would focus on their families because they reminded me so much of my own family. The struggles we went through may not be the same as theirs, but it certainly mirrors them.
"This really is an amazing documentary that opens more windows and shows the struggles undocumented immigrants face and can over come when they know they have rights, unite and fight the powers that be. That's what I loved most about the documentary. In fact it won an Emmy last year so I'm not alone in that view. Any Dreamie can relate to their struggle and like me see some of themselves and their families in the people in the documentary."
In the fall, the Fashion-oriented blog "39th and Broadway" featured a story about Made in L.A., which we just spotted. It's great to see the film moving through the fashion blogosphere and making an impact on readers concerned with where and how their clothes are made...
"Working in the NYC garment center today when you hear the word ‘sweatshop' it may evoke images of decrepit factories in Mexico, China or Bangladesh but that is not always the case. As many of you know the offices you are currently in were at one time factories and, prior to the Garment and Textile Union, would have been considered sweatshops. Where you are now clicking away on your Mac a young woman was once hunched over a sewing machine. That is why we should all have our eyes open to the exploitation of workers in our industry. In the US, sweatshops are rare but not extinct, as has been proven by Forever 21 and its sub-par working conditions in California. Now a group of filmmakers have made a documentary focusing on these sweatshops and the women in them. This is a must see for anyone working in fashion..."
To read more details and to watch a streaming video of the Ashland City Council's debate visit the IMC's website.
I have to say I've been reading Eduardo Galeano's books since I was 20, so this recognition means a lot to me...!
El pasado diciembre terminó el Segundo Festival Internacional de Cine Documental del Uruguay, ATLANTIDOC 2008, con base en Atlántida y extensión en Montevideo. El Jurado del Festival integrado por Eduardo Galeano (Uruguay), Jorge Rocca (Argentina) y Sérgio Sanz (Brasil), "decidieron otorgar por unanimidad... una mención especial para "Made in LA", de Almudena Carracedo (Estados Unidos) por su elocuente registro a lo largo de cuatro años, de un pequeño conflicto que expresa un drama". Además el jurado también entregó a Made in L.A. el Premio a la Mejor Edición!
Llevo leyendo los libros de Eduardo Galeano desde que tenía 20 años, por lo que este reconocimiento significa mucho para mí...
Kirstin Beifus from SweatFree Washington summarized the experience: "The film brings the issue to our doorstep and rings the bell-and after meeting these women and their families one is compelled to answer. It reminds everyone working on campaigns and those interested in supporting workers rights why this work is important and who is really on the front lines of these efforts and has everything to lose: the workers. It is a galvanizing experience, as we are all consumers and thus support of the apparel industry with our incomes and our tax dollars so none of us is without responsibility."
We're especially happy that the events with Made in L.A. were able to connect the issues in the film with the concrete issues that each community faces, and to move people to action. Kristin noted, "[As a result of the tour] there will be more concerted efforts with sweat-free groups on UW campus, labor academics and community groups. SweatFree NW, with the success of the Made in LA Tour, is talking about organizing a worker's tour at the beginning of next year with SweatFree Communities." And Wes Brain added: "One success of the Made in LA tour, from my point of view, was how it strengthened how all of our various sweat-free campaigns in the northwest are "working together". We are on the same page and the name of that page is "solidarity".
Here's to many more!
Special thanks to all the organizers that were involved in making this tour a reality: Elizabeth Swager (Sweatfree Northwest), Kristen Beifus (Sweatfree Washington), Dick Meyer (South Sound Clean Clothes Campaign and Traditions Café & Fair Trade), Stephanie Celt (Washington Fair Trade Coalition), Star Murray (UWT SLAP), Alejandro Jimenez (Alianza), Wes Brain (Southern Oregon Jobs With Justice), Barbara Scott Winkler (Southern Oregon University), Liana Foxvog (Sweatfree Communities), and many, many more!
The event was hoping to gather support for a sweatfree ordinance in the city of Ashland, which was expected to come to City Council on December 2 (then posponed till December 16). "The City of Ashland should ensure that its employees' uniforms aren't coming from sweatshops", stated Wes Brain at the event, "SOJwJ and SweatFree Ashland are taking a resolution to city council on Dec. 2 so the timeliness of the screening is significant."
Read an article about Ashland's Sweatfree efforts and Made in L.A.'s screening in Ashland Daily Tidings.
It was particularly moving to engage with high school students from the Willamette Academy who were in attendance. One student asked why we would even care to put so much time into this -if this was not our personal struggle, why care? It's funny, it's such a basic and important question. We each told the story of the making of the film, and our own personal reasons for doing it, and the great importance of resisting and calling out injustice and suffering whenever you become aware of it, whether or not it touches you personally. Heavy stuff. But she seemed moved...
This event was sponsored by: Alianza, the Lilly Project, Women and Gender Studies, and American Ethnic Studies.
This event was actually the seed for the rest of the tour, and it all started when student organizer Star Murray contacted us with the idea of doing a screening of Made in L.A. at the University of Washington at Tacoma. Star's enthusiasm lead to plans for a big event, and we then started coordinating with the Pacific Northwest Sweatfree Campaigns to turn an evening into a big tour...
Representatives from SweatFree Washington and SLAP came down to speak at the event and helped link the issues in the film with local actions happening in Tacoma and Seattle. There was also a really interesting conversation about how free trade agreements have changed economic conditions and force people around the world to migrate, which in turn ties the issues in the film with the global landscape. Finally, a union member made the point that that even though workers come and go from seasonal or temporary jobs, workers who learn the organizing skills shown in Made in L.A. at worker centers then take those skills with them to other jobs. Really interesting points...
Afterwards we went to have dinner with Star and UWT Professor Emily Noelle Ignacio
who told us that "the film does the work for me".
This event was hosted by: Student Labor Action Project @ UWT, ACLU Student Chapter, Black Student Union, Latino Student Organization, HOPE Network; and sponsored by: UW Tacoma Student Activities Board, UWT Arts and Lectures, Harry Bridges Center for Labor Studies, UWT Diversity Resource Center and AVC Cedrick Howard.
The room was truly packed and as usual it was fun to hear the laughter of an all-student audience. This was a truly activist screening: a representative of the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO, spoke about ongoing campaigns, SLAP called on students to attend an action on campus the next day and a member of CISPES invited folks to a dinner to learn more about a delegation to oversee El Salvador's next elections. And the Washington Fair Trade Coalition, which is currently engaged in the Sweatfree Washington Campaign, led a discussion regarding bringing a sweatfree purchasing ordinance to Seattle, and passed flyers to send a petition to Seatle's mayor. Stephanie Celt, Director of the Washington Fair Trade Coalition, noted, "I hope it will help with our broader work on trade policy, to help people recognize how bad trade policy can lead to these kinds of circumstances, and to generate thought about what kinds of changes to our trade agreements might help avoid or mitigate this type of exploitation."
Kristin Beifus (SweatFree Washington) adds: "[Our goals were] to raise the profile of Sweat-Free campaigns working on campus and in the community by highlighting sweatshops in the US, and engage people to become part of these campaigns. The film was a call to action and Robert and Almudena made every effort to link the film with local initiatives. By the end 30 people had signed postcards indicating that they were interested in becoming involved with SweatFree Campaigns."
This event was sponsored by SweatFree Washington, the Student Labor Action Project (SLAP), Labor Studies, Latin American Studies, Washington Fair Trade, the Washington State Labor Council and CISPES.
The event attracted 75 people -it was truly packed and we had an amazing discussion! There were some folks from Bridges not Walls, who talked about Tacoma's ICE detention center, where they hold weekly candlelight vigils. Other audience members described the law that allows the border patrol to conduct raids and arrests within 100 miles of a border and that, as a result, there are often controls and checkpoints in the region. Some folks didn't even know there were raids in Olympia, or that this detention center even existed right next door...
It was beautiful to be discussing all of this right there at Traditions, a place based on fair trade and packed with sweatfree goods and clothing. Special thanks to Beth Provo for letting us stay at her place that evening! Be sure to visit Marigold, Beth's hip fair trade clothing store.
We love the description of the Q&A in these two newspapers: "When Beatrice Chodosh and Ana Maria Badash set out to screen a movie about sweatshops, they hoped the film would change the way people think about immigration... The women met their goal Sunday... the movie inspired viewers to have compassion for immigrants, who often leave their families behind and work hard under poor conditions... ‘Some people got really emotional. They felt for those women,' Chodosh said". Read more at Stamford Advocate (in English).
The Spanish language press also picked up the story: "En el foro, moderado por Lisa Bergmann, de Crisol, varios presentes contaron las vivencias de inmigrantes allegadas a su círculo y hasta la forma como los mal llamados medios de comunicación social local, se vuelven cómplices de la explotación y el abuso". Read more at La Voz Hispana (in Spanish).
If you also want to organize a screening of the film, check our Host a Screening page, that includes everything you need to organize and promote an impactul screening of Made in L.A. in your community!
|With jury and Festival staff at the closing night|
The festival, FIDOCS (Festival Internacional de Documental de Santiago), now run by journalist Gonzalo Maza, was launched 12 years ago by Patricio Guzmán, one of my doc heroes and the director of films like The Battle of Chile and Chile: Obstinate Memory. Both films made me cry and inspired me to follow his example... And so it's especially touching to be invited to serve on the jury of FIDOCS' national competition, and also to premiere Made in L.A. here at the National Cinemateque in FIDOCS' international program (out-of-competition).
The National Cinemateque is, paradoxically, underneath the Government Palace, the building which was bombed by Pinochet and his US allies during the 1973 coup-d'etat, a scene that has been ingrained in my mind from the black and white footage that I have seen so many times... Our screening was very moving, and I was impacted (and relieved!) to hear the same responses and the same passion - "we have to use this to organize!" - that I have heard in other parts of the world.
The jury work was more relaxed than in Spain (only 12 films to watch), and we saw great films, really. We ended up awarding the first prize to a film that really impacted me: "The Revolution of the Penguins" (La revolución de los Pingüinos) by Jaime Díaz Lavanchy. It tells the story of Chilean high school kids who, fighting for their right to education, managed to mobilize the entire country for a national strike. After seeing the film, I sought out the director to tell him "amazing editing!" Later I learned that the editor, Pedro Chaskel, was the editor for "La Batalla de Chile"!
| At Neruda's home in Isla Negra|
Our Chilean hosts were wonderful and really worked to help us savor our time there: they fed us, they took us to see my beloved Pablo Neruda's home in Isla Negra, and they just took care of us with such attention and respect, that I leave Chile with nostalgia and the desire to return very, very soon!
Check out La Tercera's article about my visit and watch a video at Cinefilo about the festival with interviews to many of us (all in Spanish).
| With Francisco, Manuel and Ruben Codeseira, our amazing jury coordinator|