Labor-themed film series

Many avid movie watchers could name the most gut-busting comedy, spine-stiffening horror movie or charming romance, but what about the roots of cinematic art?  

Auguste and Louis Lumi??re, two of the first film-makers in history, publicly screened a movie for the first time in the winter of 1895, according to David Jenemann, UVM Director of Film and Television Studies

The first film they showed lasted 46 seconds, and was called “La Sortie de l’Usine Lumi??re Lyon“. This translates to “The Exit from the Lumi??re Factory in Lyon.”

This film was considered impressive during the turn of the 19th century, according to Jenemann. The hard-working people of that time could most likely relate to this labor-themed film, he said.  

UVM has chosen to screen a labor-based film series this year called, “Working for a Living: Labor on Film,” according to a Seven Days article.

Despite the frigid cold, around 80 movie fanatics, both students and non-students, attended the first film shown, according to Jenemann.

The film was Director Mike Judge’s classic comedy, “Office Space”. It was shown at the Billings Lecture Hall Jan. 23.

The decision to base the film series on labor was a collaborative one, Jenemann said. He stressed the importance of labor in film.  

In his opinion, the hardest part wasn’t choosing a theme, but rather deciding which films to screen.

“Office Space”, although comical, displays very seriously how work alienates people, Jenemann said.

An audience member approached Jenemann after the showing and explained how he is hired to fit as many office workers into a space as possible. This dehumanizes hard-workers by treating them like objects.   

“Salt of the Earth”, a movie about a workers’ strike that was previously banned for its seemingly communist politics, will be shown Feb. 20.

“Fast Cheap and Out of Control”will be shown March 20. Lastly, Jenemann’s personal favorite of the series, “The Front”will be shownApril 17, according to UVM’s website.

Each screening will begin with Jenemann’s input of the film’s context, Jenemann said. They will also end with a session of Questions and Answers.  

“I think [the film series] will make students more aware of the working environment and the difficulties faced from having an actual job,” first-year Fredric Fields said.

The films can enlighten students as to what life will be like after college, Fields added.  

“Maybe [the film series] will be a means of self-reflection on what it means to work in the world,” Jenemann said. “Something I like to do as a teacher is show people how movies can show broader ideas,” he said.

Whether someone is a film enthusiast, labor enthusiast or just looking to have a good time, a night spent broadening one’s knowledge of film is certainly not a night wasted, Jenemann explained.   

After being asked what his favorite movie of all time was, Jenemann said:  “I can’t tell you that! I have three kids.  That would be like asking me which child I love the most.”