2019 Human Rights Film Festival: WAGES OF WORK

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 1: Reception at 7 pm; Films at 8 pm


The 2019 EPFC Human Rights Film Festival kicks off with a screening of Wages of Work, one of the six thematic programs of We Tell: Fifty Years of Participatory Community Media programmed by Louis Massiah (filmmaker and Executive Director of Scribe Video Center) and Patricia R. Zimmermann (Professor of Screen Studies at Ithaca College). FILMMAKER ROBERT NAKAMURA AND CURATOR/SCHOLAR KAREN ISHIZUKA IN ATTENDANCE!

Citizens and communities approach issues surrounding job opportunities, occupations, wages, unemployment, and underemployment in different ways. They engage in union organizing. They reclaim hidden, repressed, and suppressed stories. They launch political protests. Wages of Work  spotlights lives from across the United States operating under various constraints as they try to make a living.


The United Mine Workers of America: A House Divided (Dan Mohn, Benjamin Zickafoose, Appalshop, 1971,14 minutes)

Wataridori: Birds of Passage (Robert Nakamura, Visual Communications, 1974, 38 minutes)

Plena is Work, Plena is Song (Pedro Rivera, Susan Zeig, 1989, 37 minutes)

VozMob (Voces Móviles /Mobile Voices) (Instituto de Educación Popular del Sur de California / Institute for Popular Education of Southern California [IDEPSCA], 2010, 3 minutes)

I’m NOT on the Menu (Gary M. Brooks, Andrew Friends, Labor Beat, 2018, 12 minutes)

In attendance: Programmer Patricia R. Zimmermann, Filmmaker Robert A. Nakamura and Curator/Scholar Karen Ishizuka

Patricia R. Zimmermann (coprogrammer, researcher, writer) is Professor of Screen Studies at Ithaca College and codirector of the Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival. She is author of Reel Families: A Social History of Amateur Film; States of Emergency: Documentaries, Wars, Democracies; Thinking Through Digital Media: Transnational Environments and Locative Places (with Dale Hudson); Open Spaces: Openings, Closings, and Thresholds of International Public Media;  The Flaherty: Decades in the Cause of Independent Cinema (with Scott MacDonald); Open Space New Media Documentary: A Toolkit for Theory and Practice (with Helen De Michiel), and Documentary Across Platforms: Reverse Engineering Media, Place, and Politics. She is co-editor (with Karen Ishizuka) of Mining the Home Movie: Excavations in Histories and Memories. A media historian and theorist, she specializes in documentary, new media, film/media/new media history, amateur film and emerging amateur technologies, and histories of the international public media arts.

Robert A. Nakamura is a filmmaker and teacher, sometimes referred to as “the Godfather of Asian American media.” In 1970 he co-founded Visual Communications, the premier community-based Asian Pacific American media arts center in the United States. Robert A. Nakamura is a Professor Emeritus of UCLA having taught in the Department of Asian American Studies and Department of Film, Television and Digital Media in addition to being Associate Director of the Asian American Studies Center. A pioneering Asian American filmmaker, he has produced and directed numerous documentary films that have garnered many awards and screenings such the Sundance Film Festival, the Yamagata International Film Festival and Robert Flaherty Seminar for Independent Film and Cinema. He was founding Director of Visual Communications, the nation’s premier Asian Pacific American media arts center, the Media Arts Center of the Japanese American National Museum and the UCLA Center for EthnoCommunications. His honors include the Ann C. Rosenfield Distinguished Community Partnership Prize, Distinguished Artist, C.O.L.A. (City of Los Angeles), UCLA Endowed Chair in Japanese American Studies and having has early work selected for retrospectives of the documentary form by the Film Forum, Oakland Museum of Modern Art and Long Beach Museum of Art.

Karen L. Ishizuka, M.S.W, Ph.D. is the Chief Curator of the Japanese American National Museum and a scholar/author specializing in Japanese American and Asian Pacific Island history and culture. Her books include Serve the People: Making Asian America in the Sixties (2016), Lost and Found: Reclaiming the Japanese American Incarceration (2006). She is an award-winning documentary writer/producer including an HBO Producers Award for Toyo Miyatake: Infinite Shades of Gray (2002), which was an official selection at the Sundance Festival. A pioneer in establishing the historical and cultural significance of home movies in the United States, she co-edited Mining the Home Movie: Excavations in Histories and Memories (2008) with Patricia Zimmermann.

We Tell: Fifty Years of Participatory Community Media is a national traveling exhibition featuring 41 separate media projects; 36 different production entities, including nonprofit community organizations and cultural centers; and works from 19 states and Puerto Rico. We Tell is a thematic collection of short documentaries produced by community media entities. Not only does the exhibition celebrate the important 50-year history of participatory community media in the United States, but also restores these legacies as a vital, vibrant sector of the ecologies of documentary. The exhibition was programmed collaboratively for over five years by Louis Massiah (filmmaker and Executive Director of Scribe Video Center) and Patricia R. Zimmermann (Professor of Screen Studies at Ithaca College). Archival research for the exhibition was contributed by The XFR Collective, an organization of media archivists that partners with artists, activists, individuals, and groups to lower the barriers to preserving at-risk audiovisual media.


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