Between 1968 and 1981, the London-based collective Cinema Action produced numerous “socialist campaign films,” on themes including housing, workers’ rights and international questions. A selection of these films will be shown at Marx Memorial Library’s Main Hall on Saturday afternoons in the coming months. The films themselves carry a unique, contemporary perspective of the class struggles of this era. For only £5 per session, participants can watch original archive films and take part in an informed discussion with a guest chair.
The first screening will take place on Saturday January 30th 2016 at 3pm:
A short silent campaign piece called “White Paper” will be shown, alongside two longer films, “Fighting the Bill” and “Arise Ye Workers.”
“White Paper” deals with the Labour government’s proposal to reduce the power of Trade Unions, titled “In Place of Strife,” and uses animation and stills to argue against the suggested plan.
After that, “Fighting the Bill” details the overwhelming trade union movements campaigning against the Conservative government’s 1971 Industrial Relations Act. The film sets the struggle in the context of the time, when international disdain with capitalism was increasing, and when trade unions in Britain had to push back once again against threats of state suppression. The film uses historical footage and interviews to demonstrate the will of working people in 1971 to oppose such a bill. “Arise Ye Workers” also deals with the same Act but instead follows the dockworkers’ fight against redundancy and wage cuts caused by containerisation. The film moves from the struggles against land speculation and profiteering, to police harassment of pickets, and finally to the arrest of the Pentonville Five after the enforcement of the Industrial Relations Act, which led to the TUC calling a general strike. After successful demonstrations of solidarity with those arrested, the Act was effectively dismantled, showing the power of the working class. This film showcases notable historical footage of police harassment and dockers successfully convincing Fleet Street printworkers to strike with them.
Carolyn Jones, from the Institute of Employment Rights, will chair the discussion and analysis of these films.
Subsequent events will follow each month:
- Saturday February 27th at 3pm: Showing of “The UCS Struggle,” a film about workers fighting to retain their jobs at Upper Clyde Shipyards, and “Class Struggle – Film from the Clyde,” a documentary made about the occupation and work-in at the same Shipyard from July 1971 to October 1972.
- Saturday March 26th at 3pm: Showing of “GEC1,” a short supporting GEC Merseyside stewards calling for factory occupation; “Vauxhalls,” a partly animated short film against the introduction of Measured Day Work at the company, and “The Miners’ Film,” which documents the industrial action of miners in the winter of 1973-4 that altered the political landscape by helping to bring down Edward Heath’s Conservative government.
- Saturday April 30th at 3pm: Showing of “Not a Penny on the Rents,” a campaign film opposing GLC attempts to raise council rents which includes footage of tenants’ demonstrations; “Squatters,” a film that shows support for squatters in various London boroughs resisting eviction by private landlords, and “Hands off Student Unions,” which documents students’ struggle to preserve the autonomy of their union from state control under Thatcher.
- Saturday May 28th at 3pm: Showing of “People of Ireland,” a full-length documentation of the 1969 self-declared autonomous area of Free Derry, including interviews with militants, community leaders, ministers and unemployed workers.
- Saturday June 25th at 3pm: “Viva Portugal,” a full-length film tracing the first year of the Portuguese Revolution, including the effects the revolution had on the people and the infrastructure of Portugal.
The MML is keen to develop its facilities to host events like this. Donate to our audiovisual fundraising appeal – we need £700 for a new projector and screen.
For information on these film events and other lecture, evening classes and book sales, please see MML website: