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network 18/09/2015 - 12:00PM


Cinema Politica is thrilled to announce that THE HAND THAT FEEDS (Rachel Lears, 2014) will not only open the Fall 2015 season at Cinema Politica’s Concordia chapter, but will also be available for screening throughout the Cinema Politica network.

THE HAND THAT FEEDS follows the improbable and inspiring journey of a group of undocumented immigrant restaurant workers in New York City who unionize to improve their working conditions and, eventually, go on strike to save their jobs. The film offers a fascinating look behind the scenes at the process of organizing labour protests, especially with the added complication of the culture of silent complicity within exploitative restaurant industry. The workers’ road towards unionization and self-sufficiency is fraught with dishonest owners, anti-union saboteurs, police interference, and threats of deportation.

Lears balances the group’s protests and legal struggles with a candid look at the personal and familial consequences of the workers’ frequent under- and unemployment. Of particular interest is the lead protestor’s spouse, who supports the group’s cause but is keenly aware of the financial toll that the strike is taking on her family.

Lears’s storytelling captures the spirit of a long labour strike without sacrificing the film’s pace. In fact, the sheer number of logistical hurdles faced by the workers becomes part of the film’s appeal and complexity: the audience feels compelled to celebrate the workers’ victories while appreciating how many other groups could have reasonably given up hope by now. THE HAND THAT FEEDS celebrates the achievement of one group of organized workers without presuming that the issues of immigration and labour exploitation are therefore permanently resolved. The example set by the workers in THE HAND THAT FEEDS deserves all the attention that it can receive, and will surely fit well within many of our locals’ programs.