Working Films, in collaboration with Amazon Labor Union, North Carolina AFL-CIO, Starbucks Workers United, Union of Southern Service Workers, and United Farm Workers, are issuing a call for short films that will amplify workers seeking to have their voices heard. Since 2018, through a program called Docs in Action, Working Films has funded, curated, and distributed short films that illuminate and offer solutions to critical issues facing the nation. In 2023, the fund will focus on the growing wave of worker-led organizing throughout the United States.
“With this momentous rise of workers coming together to say ‘enough is enough,’ especially in industries that are set up to keep workers from unionizing, there could not be a better time for films about workers’ rights. To expand on this moment, we need stories that share the value and significance of unions as well as films that share success stories and a ‘how-to’ of workers fighting back and winning” said Andy Myers, Director of Campaigns and Strategy at Working Films. “We hope the films we fund and curate will demonstrate the possibilities of the moment we are in and further build this surge in labor organizing.”
Unions offer hope and support for workers in our economy, serving as a means to address workplace concerns and promote equality. They also intersect with various justice-related struggles of our time. The 2023 Docs In Action Film Fund plans to showcase these aspects, emphasize the collective power of worker-led movements, and demonstrate that unity among workers can overcome obstacles. The films produced through this initiative will build understanding and empathy, and will inspire workers to organize within their own workplaces while fostering solidarity with the broader labor movement.
“In the last few years, there have been a lot of uprisings, strikes, and unions. There are people who are interested, who weren’t before, but a lot of people don’t know our rights as workers. If I knew what I know now – my own organizing would have really benefited. The films we choose will share these rights and give workers the tools they need to to organize their own workplaces. These stories will show that it’s possible to be done anywhere” said Chris Smalls, President of Amazon Labor Union.
According to Eric Winston, a representative of the Ignite Committee of the Union for Southern Service Workers (USSW), “we really want stories that expand on the idea of what a union is. People are told being in a union means a boss tells you you are in a union, but a union just means coworkers coming together and saying they will be one voice to make conditions better. We also need stories that share the struggles low wage workers go through including their mental and physical health.”
The 2023 Docs in Action program includes two tracks. First, filmmakers can apply for up to $30,000 in funding for short documentary films. Filmmakers with works-in-progress can apply for funding to complete short documentaries under 30 minutes. The funding will exclusively cover the completion costs of the projects. Second, filmmakers can submit completed documentaries or narrative films to be included in a compilation that will tour the U.S. in 2024. Films selected for the compilation will receive screening rights fees. Working Films will also offer free consultation, peer-to-peer networking, and other in-kind support opportunities. Priority will be given to films featuring personal stories and those created by individuals directly affected by the issues.
Filmmakers may apply for both tracks of the Docs in Action program, but only one project per applicant is permissible for funding consideration. The director or producer of the film must be the applicant. All selected projects must be fully completed no later than May 1st, 2024. The deadline for applying for both tracks is 11:59 ET on August 13th, 2023.
More information can be found at www.workingfilms.org/docsinaction2023.