Ad Hoc Vox and 16 Beaver Group are pleased to invite you to I Am Not Going Back!: an evening of films and discussions. This event will take cinema as a springboard to collectively redefine the meanings and tactics of strike in response to the international call for a General Strike on May 1st, which in New York has also been named A Day Without the 99%.
In 1885, the brothers Lumière’s 45 second scene entitled Workers Leaving the Lumière Factory in Lyon marks the beginning of film history. In 1995, filmmaker Harun Farocki in Workers Leaving the Factory meticulously examines this theme of workers leaving the space of production. His case study spans fiction, documentaries, newsreels, and industrial and propaganda films. Farocki remarks that the factory has become one of the most neglected film locations since “most narrative films take place in that part of life where work has been left behind.”
In our next film, we shift our focus to a blind spot within this marginalized genre, the moment in which workers return to the factory. The moment after the strike is almost never included in strike narratives. In this respect, Jacques Willemont’s La Reprise du Travail aux Usines Wonder (Resumption of Work at The Wonder Factory)—a documentary only of an ending—is very much against the usual narrative progression. Willemont’s crew arrived at the very instance in which the resumption of work was decided after a three week-long occupation. The camera focuses on a woman screaming again and again, “Whatever, I am not going back!”
The review of cinematic strike endings immediately confronts us with the question: How do we define “victory” in today’s anti-capitalist struggle? In addition to Farocki’s Workers Leaving the Factory and Willemont’s Resumption of Work at the Wonder Factory the closing sequence of several strike films will be screened.
The films have been curated by Martyna Starosta, who will facilitate the discussion along with Colleen Asper.