by Amy Kesselman
both its content and the way it was produced, this film by a group of
people blacklisted in the McCarthy era has many meanings for us in the
Movement. It is symbolic of the fact that repression can never be totally
realized; that somehow, people find ways to continue working for the
things that are important to them.
This group of film-makers knew that they had something to say that wasn't
being said by Hollywood. They wanted to tell a story of working people
and their struggle for dignity. But as they were making the film, freed
from the confines of the bourgeois film industry, they learned something
else. They found that if a movie was to tell the story of people, the
people themselves must be involved in its direction, acting and writing.
So, the members of Local 890 of the Mine, Mill and Smelter Workers Union
(expelled from the CIO in the early fifties), the heroes of the film,
were involved in every aspect of its production.
The message of this movie, according to its script writer, is "the
indivisibility of equality. " It is the story of the struggle of
Mexican-American miners for equality with "Anglo" miners and
of the struggle of their women for equality with men. As the heroine
put it, "I want to rise and push everything with me as I go."
This movie is real; painfully real to those of us who are women and
who know the agony of being treated as trivial by the men in the Movement
to which we have dedicated ourselves, a Movement pledged to build a
society where every human being has dignity.
For women the message was clear; men will treat women as equals when
women organize, become a vital part of struggles, and unceasingly demand
to be treated as human beings.
I am unsure how men react to the movie. Their comments indicate an attempt
to escape from it: "Latin American men really treat their women
bed, " one said. "It was a movie about unions, not women,
" protested another. Most men sat silently at those points in the
film when the women were cheering wildly. These men will not be changed
by a film. It is up to us to change them.