Indy Film Fest


Indy Film Fest 2012: BROTHERS ON THE LINE

Guest Post by Nik Browning
Bio: Began musical blogging under myspace/facebook dev. - movies.

“Brothers one the Line” is a documentary that focuses on the Reuther brothers, early leaders in the American Labor movement from the early 20th century. This is a meat and potatoes film that doesn't waste time retelling the history that we're already familiar with. A Ken Burns exposition on labor would probably begin with primitive man learning to use tools. Family grandson Sasha Reuther dually succeeds in focusing on the deeds and wills of the principles, while still also tying that history to the growth of not only the labor movement; but later to the US Economic boom, the Civil Rights Movement and the Vietnam War. Specifically, while other union leaders primarily served only to the betterment of their constituents, the Reuthers sought a greater vision of US Manufacturing; and broader yet, the nature of business; and even broader still - society.

The film focuses on Walter, in the same way a film about the Kennedy's would focus on Jack. He was the most vocal, most charismatic. The most ambitious. The film starts, as the brothers did, in Detroit. Again, this film assumes that the audience understands the Great Depression and the inhumane working conditions of the time. The focus then, is on the Union's rise to power. The negotiation tactics used, the press that is won. Once footholds are formed and workers become empowered, further change can be made simply by the size of the electorate that has been formed with a close common understanding.

What the film lacks in being able to provide film for, is readily made up with powerful speeches matched with striking historic photographic images. As the film reaches its later years, and you would assume the Labor movement nestles into place of complacence, the film shows us more of Reuther's White House ties, including invaluable phone conversations with LBJ. The inclusion of this film in the Indy Film Fest could not be more timely. While the US is still the world's largest manufacturing economy, its labor representation has fractioned, not so subtly portrayed at Wisconsin's recent recall defeat. This film challenges the audience to see similarities and to learn the lessons of history.

Brothers on the Line
Sasha Reuther 2012
Categories: Matter of Fact Features

View the trailer:

The 9th annual Indianapolis International Film Festival features more than 100 films in 10 days. July 19-29 at IMA and Earth House. See the entire 2012 line up!

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  1. THANK YOU Indy Film Fest for selecting this documentary.

    So many of today’s adults and young people have little appreciation for the difference organized labor has made in all our lives. There would be no employer-
    provided health insurance for workers were it not for leaders like the Reuthers.
    Likewise, the 40 hour work week, overtime pay, safer and healthier workplaces,
    vacations, and a higher standard of living were all made possible by organized labor. With the decline in labor union numbers, the middle class is declining as well.

    I cannot think of a more opportune time for this documentary to light the path
    back to a better standard of living for America’s poor and dwindling middle class.

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