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Left-Wing Films

This list is by no means exhaustive, but it will give you lots of ideas for films to show at cell meetings, for public events, or as a means to brainwash conservative youth that you kidnapped from Boy Scout outings. Of course, any film can be watched and deconstructed for its lessons about race, class, gender and power, but these films make those discussions a little easier. Showing films can be a great way to have political discussions at the same time you are having fun. You can even use them as fund-raising events, since most only cost $10 to $20 a piece. (You aren't suppose to charge people to see movies you rent from a store.)

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A League of Their Own - Tom Hanks, Geena Davis, Rosie O'Donnell and Madonna star in this dramatization of the true story of a group of women enlisted by the government and professional basebal to play baseball (albeit like ladies, in miniskirts) while the men were in WWII. Though the league faded away in the early 1950s, it paved the way for new attitudes towards women in sports.

Accused, The - (1988, Jonathan Kaplan) An ambitious assistant district attorney (Kelly McGillis) and a free-spirited waitress (Jodie Foster) wage a personal battle against the legal system in this gripping' h)' contemporary drama. Foster stars as the victim of a brutal barroom gang rape that is witnessed by a roomful of patrons and employees. Foster and McGillis join forces in a determined attempt to bring to trial the people who are as guilty as the men who committed the crime- the bystanders who let it happen. The Accused is an EXTREMELY disturbing film that explores the devastating aftereffects of a vicious crime and the shocking apathy that allowed it to occur. (110 min.) Hollywood comes to grips with rape as a pervasive attitude rather than an isolated incident. Anchored by Jodie Foster's she's-no-angel protagonist, it launched a whole genre of made-for-TV movies, an indication that a film has hit a cultural nerve."Review by John Sayles, in Mother Jones, 1996"

An Angel at My Table - A film by Jane Campion (The Piano) based on an autobiography of an New Zealand woman writer who was diagnosed as mentally ill, and long mistreated in the health care system.

Betrayal - A woman is sexually abused by her psychiatrist and brings him to trial on rape charges in this timely, emotional drama. Starring Rip Torn, Lesley Ann Warren, Richard Masur and Ron Silver. (100 min.)

Born in Flames (1983)  Set ten years after the most peaceful revolution in United States history, a revolution in which a socialist government gains power, this films presents a dystopia in which the issues of many progressive groups - minorities, liberals, gay rights organizations, feminists - are ostensibly dealt with by the government, and yet there are still problems with jobs, with gender issues, with governmental preference and violence. In New York City, in this future time, a group of women decide to organize and mobilize, to take the revolution farther than any man - and many women - ever imagined in their lifetimes. (90 min) Summary written by Gary Dickerson.

Bread and Roses (1994)...Summarises the early life of politician Sonja Davies. Sonja is a young independent socialist embarking on a career in nursing during World War 2.

Frida - A biography of the Mexican, transgendered, disabled, Trotskyist, bisexual artist, Frida Kahlo.

Fried Green Tomatoes (1991) - Jessica Tandy, Kathy Bates, Mary Stuart Masterson, Mary-Louise Parker. An elderly woman recounts her lesbian feminist past in hostile, rural America.

Handmaid's Tale - A horrific vision of a world where Pat Buchanan/Pat Robertson-types have taken over in a Christian fascist coup, and enslaved the few remaining fertile women as the breeders for the elite.

Heavenly Creatures (1994)...Based on the true story of Juliet Hulme and Pauline Parker, two close friends who share a love of fantasy and literature, who conspire to kill Pauline's mother when she tries to end the girls' intense and obsessive relationship.

I, the Worst of All (1995) - This Spanish movie is a beautiful, deeply affecting dramatization of the life of Sister Juana Ines de la Cruz, one of the greatest Spanish language poets. Sor Juana became a nun in the 16th century in Mexico because she would not have been allowed to pursue a life of scholarship and writing as an aristocratic married woman. The free-thinking and feminist sentiments of her poetry, however, bring her into conflict with the intensely misogynist ArchBishop. She is protected from the Inquisition by her erotic muse and special friend, the wife of the Governor of Mexico. Her Sapphic poems to the governess eventually bring about her downfall.

I Want to Live - This true story stars Susan Hayward as a woman framed for murder and sentenced to death for a crime she didn't commit. (122 min.)

Kahlo - A documentary about the Mexican, transgendered, disabled, Trotskyist, bisexual artist, Frida Kahlo.

Katherine - An absorbing drama fueled by a stand-out performance from Sissy Spacek. A spoiled little rich girl, through her fight against social injustice, turns to radicalism and eventually, political terrorism. (98 min.)

Killing Us Softly - Advertising's image of women is a 30 min. film based on a multi-media presentation created by Jean Kilbourne. This movie was made in 1981, so therefore, much of the material is dated. The information presented is often very disturbing and provides a great backdrop for sexual stereotypes discussion.

Ladybird Ladybird: an award winning film by English Socialist Ken Loach examines the life of an unmarried mother of four, all by different fathers, and the social services agencies and courts who remove her children from her care. She meets a Paraguayan political refugee who changes her life. Based on a true story.

Marie: A True Story - Sissy Spacek stars as a Tennessee criminal justice head who uncovers a massive conspiracy of graft and corruption that reaches the state capital, and her battle against the system also stars Jeff Daniels and Morgan Freeman. (112 min.)

Mildred Pierce - is a story of a woman who rises from waitress to restaurateur in order to support her spoiled daughter.(111 min.)

Out of Africa - the accounts of Isak Dinesen's life in 1910's Africa. Meryl Streep stars as the Danish woman who reluctantly goes to Africa with her husband Klaus Brandauer to run a coffee plantation, but slowly comes to fall in love with the land. (161 min.)

The Piano - Jane Campion's story of repression and self-discovery in New Zealand.

Rape and Marriage:The Rideout Case - A timely drama set around the 1978 court case where a woman charged her husband with rape. Starring Mikey Rourke, Rip Torn, Linda Hamilton and Conchata Ferrell. (96 min.)

She's Gotta Have It - Spike Lee's most fun movie, about a young black woman living independently, and making decisions about what she wants from the men in her life. A dissent - I have a HUGE problem with your inclusion of "She's Gotta Have It" as a feminist film. Not only is the free-spirited female lead raped by her boyfriend in an effort to control her but it is extremely homophobic - her lesbian friend is portrayed as nothing more than a preying sex fiend trying to "change" her. bell hooks has written about the misogyny of Spike Lee's films in several of her articles. - anonynmous

Silkwood - Meryl Streep is Karen Silkwood, the free-spirited, nuclear plant worker who questions the safety of her work environment, investigates on her own, and dies in a mysterious car accident on her way to deliver evidence of wrongdoing. (131 min.)

Thelma and Louise - Two gals escape from patriarchy, kill a rapist, self-actualize while on the run from the cops, and then kill themselves.

The Scarlet Letter - There are three versions of this Nathaniel Hawthorne novel. The first version was made in 1934 and captures the classic drama of Puritan life in the 1600's and the secret that forced Hester Prynne to wear the scarlet letter. The second version is from Wim Wenders. This version lends insights into the novel through the unjust treatment of Prynne and her daughter. The final version was broadcast on PBS for Masterpiece Theatre five years ago. This version is a classic rendition of the novel and is, by far, the best of the three but is also the hardest to obtain.