Women, Organise! is a curated season of films and events which explores how women around the world have fought for their rights in the workplace, their involvement in trade unionism, and the ways in which these experiences has been presented through cinema. Delivered with support from General Federation of Trade Unions (Members of trade unions will receive a 10% discount on tickets for Women, Organise!) which is celebrating its 120th anniversary this year, the season forms a part of HOME’s year-long initiative Celebrating Women in Global Cinema.
Films scheduled include Ken Loach’s seldom-screened LA-set Bread and Roses, the British director’s 2000 work about Mexican cleaning staff’s fight to unionise. From further afield, Korean filmmaker Ji-young Boo’s 2014 Cart is an ensemble work about supermarket employees who band together when non-contract staff are laid off, whilst 1957 Hollywood musical The Pajama Game stars Doris Day as an Iowa factory worker and is directed by pedigree filmmakers George Abbott and Stanley Donen.
There are guests too, with a screening of The Nightcleaners, a key work of British political cinema from the Berwick Street Film Collective about low-paid and victimised female cleaners in 1970’s London accompanied by a Q&A with filmmaker Humphrey Trevelyan. Audiences attending a screening of Roy Battersby’s based-on-true-events textile industry drama Leeds – United! will hear from producer Kenith Trodd. Meanwhile, real-life Union leader Sarah Woolley of the Bakers and Allied Food Workers Union (BFAWU) will introduce the screening of Niki Caro’s North Country starring Charlize Theron and Frances McDormand.
HOME’s Celebrating Women in Global Cinema provides an important corrective, bringing in female talent and perspectives that have too often been sidelined in a male-dominated industry. It also provides a chance for audiences to experience some real rarities on the big screen. The programme for Women, Organise! continues to excavate cinema’s history — just look at Queer Feminist collective Club des Femmes’ documentary double-bill dedicated to working class resistance for evidence of the bounty on offer.