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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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FILMS ON THE HISTORY OF THE LEFT

1900 - Robert DeNiro learned to speak Italian for this 3-hour saga about the Italian Communist party and the rise of the Black Shirts.

Absolute Beginners -- A one-hour show about the Bolshevik-Menshevik split, starring Patrick Stewart as Lenin!, which is one of 13 episodes of the British Series "Fall of Eagles" series.

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.

Dr. Bethune (Donald Sutherland, 1993)True story of a Canadian leftist hero. Bethune was one of the first great voices for Canadian socialized medicine -- to Spain as a republican partisan who pioneered battlefield blood transfusions during the civil war, and, to Mao's 8th route army, developing battlefield medical innovations in the fight against imperial Japan. - Terry Gaines.

Daens (1992) In the 1890s, Father Adolf Daens goes to Aalst, a textile town where child labor is rife, pay and working conditions are horrible, the poor have no vote, and the Catholic church backs the petite bourgeoisie in oppressing workers. He writes a few columns for the Catholic paper, and soon workers are listening and the powerful are in an uproar. He's expelled from the Catholic party, so he starts the Christian Democrats and is elected to Parliament. After Rome disciplines him, he must choose between two callings, as priest and as champion of workers. In subplots, a courageous young woman falls in love with a socialist and survives a shop foreman's rape; children die; prelates play billiards. (138 min) Summary written by J. Hailey.

Daniel - Timothy Hutton turns in a powerful performance as a young man trying to clear his family name years after his parents are executed for conspiracy. Taken from the best-selling novel by E.L. Doctorow and based on the tragedy of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg. (130 min.)

Entertaining Angels (Martin Sheen, 1996) The story of Dorothy Day, the socialist journalist who founded the Catholic Worker newspaper and movement. She went on to demonstrate Christianity as Jesus would have wanted, ministering to those in need. Pressured by clerics she refused to remove the moniker Worker -- due to its socialist connotation -- from her journal's title. -Terry Gaines

Fame is the Spur - A British film starring Michael Redgrave on the life of Ramsay MacDonald, the first Labour PM.

The Good Fight (1983) A documentary on the Spanish Civil War and the role that America's Lincoln Brigade played in the battle for justice and freedom.

Half a Life - Winner of the Camera D'Or at the 1982 Cannes Festival and the Cesar, Half a Life is a personal memoir of that brief moment in French history, during the late `60's, when the youthful Left seemed to be successfully storming the Bastille. (95 min.)

Land and Freedom (Tierra y Libertad) (1995) An old man dies. Looking through his papers, his grand-daughter realises that he had fought in the Spanish Civil War. "In the Spring of 1936, a young unemployed communist, David, left his hometown Liverpool to join the fight against fascism in Spain. He joins an international group of Militia-men and women, the POUM (Partido Obrero de Unificacion Marxista). After being wounded he goes to Barcelona, where he decides to join another group of fighters. They remain in Barcelona and end up fighting other anti-fascist groups. David is disappointed and decides to go back to his old band." -  Walter de Rijk

Last Emperor, The - Bernardo Bertolucci's beautiful story of the last Emperor of China, demonstrating the necessity and horror of the Chinese Revolution.

Man of Marble (1977, Andrzej Wajda) This film and Wajda's sequel, Man of Iron, not only documented the Solidarity movement, they became part of it."Review by John Sayles, in Mother Jones, 1996"

May Fools - A 1990 Louise Malle film about a bourgeois French family screwing around at a funeral in May 1968, and suddenly realizing the country is in revolution.

Reds - The 1981 history of John Reed, author of Ten Days That Shook the World and a founder of the American Communist movement, and his wife Louise Bryant. Though the portrayal of Socialist Party politics has an unfortunate tilt towards the Bolshevik faction, the main point is the struggle between love and political sacrifice. Starring Warren Beatty, Diane Keaton and Jack Nicholson.

Rosa Luxumburg (1986) - The story of the Polish socialist leader who neared turned the tide for socialism in Western Europe after the Russian Revolution. (122 min)

Seeing Red - Done by the same independent producers as Union Maids, this documentary history of the U.S. Communist Party pulls its punches, never asking its respondents the hard questions about support for Uncle Joe, or the Hitler-Stalin pact.

The Slingshot (1994, Ake Sandgren, Sweden) The young son of an immigrant Russian-Jewish feminist and a Swedish socialist faces anti-Semitic and anti-Bolshevik hostility in 1920's Sweden. The title of the film refers to slingshots the boy makes out of condoms his mother illegally distributes. (Steve Press)

Things to Come - This 1933 H.G. Wells novel was a summary of his vision of the coming of world-wide war with total weapons, leading to the rising of a scientific dictatorship which will rebuild society, and establish a utopian world government.

The Way We Were Barbara Streisand as a Communist, and then former Communist left-liberal, involved with Robert Redford.

Wrestling with God (1990) The story of Alexander Campbell, a radical 19th century American clergyman. Includes a debate about God between Campbell and Robert Owen, the socalist communalist.