Breakthrough at 1st Latin American Working Class
Film & Video Festival-To Tour US Next Year
LaborFest, Labor Video Project
BUENOS AIRES, Nov. 26, 2004- It began with an avante garde and
experimental music composition to film segments of Einsentein's
Strike to the massive protest and rebellion in Argentina against the
Menem government in 2001 that was produced by the labor film group
and festival initiator Ojo Obrero. Titled "XO0N-Artistas
Independientes Contemporaries", the 9 contributing artists brought
the silent films to life with their music. This exciting original
composition was performed by some of the leading musicians from
Argentina and was held at the National de Artes de las Secretqeria
de Cultura de la Nación. It was part of a production by Frente de
Artistas en Lucha. (Front of Artists In Struggle).
This was the opening evening of the first Festival of Latin America
working class Film and Video. It was sponsored not only by a
organizing committee of independent labor film and video producers
(www.felco.ojoobrero.org) and LuchArte but also received the
support of the Argentinean Film Council and the use of their
theaters for free. It was also supported by Palaise de Glace. The
film festival organizers with a campaign were also able to get the
council to produce 500 large festival posters that were placed on
boulevard signs throughout the city.
Buenos Aires used to be the 3rd richest city in the world and
Argentina the richest country in Latin America. The city was built
on this past wealth but the collapse of the peso threw millions of
workers and their families out of their jobs and many ended have
ended up on the streets of the cities. This economic devastation has
spread throughout Latin America. From Bolivia and Ecuador to Brazil
and Mexico the people of the continent have seen their living
standards torn to shreds.
These devastating and dire economic conditions have been planned and
implemented in the US by the multinationals and the IMF with the
collaboration of Menem and a host of US controlled puppet
governments in the Americas.
These rebellions and explosions have been censored from the media in
the US and around the world but were brought forward on the screen
at the festival. The media in Argentina has also censored out the
historic protests in neighboring country Bolivia against the effort
to privatize gas and export it to Peru.
One of the films from this struggle in Bolivia, "Fusil Metralla el
pueblo no se calla" by Tercer Mundo had used tv footage, mainstream
newspaper articles and powerful editing to show the massive
explosion against the privatization of the gas industry and the
successful movement to stop the export of this valuable resource to
The protests of indigenous Indians, women and unions from the miners
to the teachers and students were tied together with fast clip
editing and powerful scenes.
Tercer Mundo (firstname.lastname@example.org)
had also traveled for 4 days by bus from La Paz to Buenos Aires to
participate and screen their video at the festival. They were elated
to meet with other labor film and video producers from around the
world. One of the final scenes of their video is the hated US
supported president of the country taking off on his jet to escape
to Chile after using the army to massacre hundreds of trade
unionists, peasants and indigenous people.
The festival screened dozens of films from Argentina, Brazil,
Mexico, Chile, Uruguay. The films were selected by a showing them
first at workers assemblys and community meetings throughout the
Viewers then chose their favorite films and these were the films
screened at the festival. Two films were shown from the United
States and Korea. Workers were stunned to see the violent attack on
workers and students protesting the Iraq war in the film "Shots on
The Docks" (email@example.com)
and the film "Friend or Foe" by Labor News Production
directed by Jiyoung Lee in Seoul Korea.
The experience of Korean telecommunication workers fighting contract
labor and their long struggles and betrayal left a sharp impression
on Argentinean workers since they are also fighting the destruction
of permanent jobs.
One part of the festival was a retrospective of Raymundo Gleyzer who
was a militant film maker during the 60´s and 70´s who was murdered
by the military dictatorship which came to power with the support of
Kissinger and the US in 1976. Four of Gleyzer's films were shown
including "Los Traidores" about the transformation of a trade union
militant into a supporter of the bosses and the government.
Attending the retrospective was musician and a leading actor of the
film Victor Proncet. Proncet was joined by his son Carlos Pronzato
who is now producing labor videos from throughout the Americas. One
of his films on the Bolivian rebellion was screened at the fundacion
Centro De Estudos Brasilleiros as well as "Revolta Do Buzu" of a
city-wide protest of students against bus fare increases. The festival
organizers also organized discussion panels during the festival on
Militant Cinemas and the Popular Rebellions, The Experience and
Practice of labor video producers, The Attack on Women by the Church
and Global Economic Policies and The Movement of the Piquetero and the
Elections. The Piquetero movement was a mass organized response to
the economic collapse and the criminalization of the poor and
unemployed by the government and capitalist media.
Committees were set up throughout the country that blocked roads and
organized to provide food for the starving people. They also
supporters hundreds of factory occupations. Many of these factory
occupations have now been filmed by labor videographers and their
documentaries were screened by the festival. Ojo Obrero was set up
only in 2001 and many of the other labor video groups came out of
the Argentinian upheaval and the need to show this struggle on video
not only in Argentina but throughout the world.
Some of the international conference participants stayed at a worker
occupied hotel in downtown Buenos Aires. The hotel B.A.U.E.N. Coop.
on Av. Callao 360 (firstname.lastname@example.org).
This hotel was seized by the workers and reopened as a cooperative.
It has conventions and rents rooms around $20.00 for a single and
$33.00 for a suite which includes breakfast.
The workers said it was a struggle to learn how to run the 210 room
hotel but they have overcome and are now in a political battle to
legalize worker occupations permanently not only for their hotel but
for worker cooperatives throughout the country.
Seventy percent of the Piqueteros movement are women and many of
these women are now organized politically in various Piqueteros
groups that provide food and other support for the working class and
One of these movements Polo Obrero has forced the government to even
provide food to their offices for distribution in the barrios and
One of the films of this movement "Open The Road To The Women
Fighters" (Paso a Las Luchadoras) by Ojo Obrero (www.ojoobrero.org)
had previously been screened at Laborfest 2004 (www.laborfest.net)
Many of the labor film makers are also involved in labor media in
general. Cine Piquetero (email@example.com)
has established pirate broadcast television in some of the barrios.
The same time the festival was taking place, an encampment of
ceramic workers from SOECN were conducting a protest against the
government next to the National Congress building. They had arranged
a photo exhibition of their struggle and also were screening videos
in the evening.
Another of the groups who had videos at the festival and at the
screening of the workers' encampment was Grupo Alavio
They have also produced journals about their work in English. One of
their films "Fallujah Bajo Sitio" compared the conditions that the
Iraqis now face to the economic conditions facing the poor and
oppressed in Argentina.
The festival organizers also proposed the establishment of an
international labor media network that would produce on the web a
journal of articles by labor media groups from around the world and
also a data bank of all labor films and videos. It would also
establish a calendar of all labor film and cultural festivals
throughout the world and links to their festivals. They also
proposed that there be an open discussion and debate of labor film
and videographers as well as radio producers about the issues and
experiences of their productions. It also supported the initiative
of the Bolivian group Tercer Mundo to have the festival in La Paz,
Boliva in October 2005 and to support the distribution of the
festival throughout the US and internationally. Laborfest organizers
have offered to help circulate the festival throughout the US next
Labor Video activists, solidarity centers or Labor or Latin American
studies programs can contact Laborfest for more information if they
would like to screen the festival in their community. This festival
marks a new beginning of working class film and video in Latin
America and will provide a major impetus for its growth and
expansion throughout the hemisphere. There are also discussions to
have another Latin American Working Class Film and Video Festival in
Buenos Aires and the first launching of a LaborTech Latin America
conference alongside the festival next year. It would be supported
by Labortech2004 (www.labortech2004.org)
which was held this year in San Francisco. The importance of
developing labor communication media and technology in Latin America
to educate workers about their common struggles and to build solidarity
is a critical task for the international labor media movement.