On April 15, low-wage workers, unions, community groups and allies will stage a coordinated "Day of Action" calling for a $15/hr minimum wage and the right to unionize. When filmmakers Robin Blotnick and Rachel Lears began making their documentary "The Hand That Feeds," which is opening on April 3 in New York and April 10 in L.A. on the eve of the protest, they never realized they’d be such a galvanizing force in the fair-wage movement.
But after rousing screenings at Full Frame, DOC NYC, AFI Docs and a bilingual subtitled Chicago screening I hosted at the Music Box Theatre, where roughly 200 activists showed up, this little documentary, about undocumented Latino workers striving for better working conditions in New York City, has taken on a life of its own as an organizing tool. The group Fight For $15 is now using the documentary to help mobilize workers and community partners to get the word out about the April event.
And even before the film was finished, the trailer inspired three separate groups of workers to organize; one of these won a settlement for better wages and hours.
Dozens of social action documentaries are being made and released these days, but I suspect that one reason "The Hand That Feeds" has become such an integral part of the movement is that it’s also fun to watch and engaging storytelling. For much the same reason, "Capitalism: A Love Story" became a must-see for participants of Occupy Wall Street (whereas so many other films made in its wake failed to catch on.)
"The Hand That Feeds" is also planning grassroots community screenings throughout the year all over the country to connect the film to local campaigns for economic justice and immigrants’ rights. For more information, viewers can visit TheHandThatFeedsFilm.com or check out their side project ChangingTheFoodChain.org.