Workers Film and Photo League

The Workers Film and Photo League was an organization of film makers in the United States affiliated with the Workers International Relief. The WIR was led by the very successful German communist-propagandist Willi Muenzenberg.

Although the best known chapter of the Film and Photo League was in New York, groups in Los Angeles, Chicago, Detroit, San Francisco and other cities created and screened documentaries under the "Film and Photo League" moniker.

[edit] History

Founded in 1930, the WFPL produced documentaries of U.S. Labor Movement including the National Hunger marches of 1931 and 1932 and the Bonus March of 1932. These newsreels were generally not distributed to theaters, but shown at party or trade union events. Although many of the WFPL's members were Marxists and some were members of the US Communist Party, it was not itself directly affiliated with the party.

In 1933 "workers" was dropped from the title and the organization became the Film and Photo League. The Soviet section of the WIR was abolished in 1935. The FPL survived for another year in New York, where its photographers formed the Photo League. Some filmmakers formed an independent private production company, others founded Nykino and some, later, the Frontier Film Group.

The Workers' Film & Photo League emerged as a loosely knit alliance of local organizations that provided left-wing visual propaganda. Building on earlier activist models such as the agit-trains of the Soviet Union, the German workers' photography movement and silent-era labor films in the US, their efforts during the years of the early Depression helped to define social documentary film and photography as a genre, while advancing media practices that survive today.

[edit] Members of the WFPL

[edit] References

  • Campbell, Russell. Film and Photo League: Radical cinema in the 30s. Jump Cut: A Review of Contemporary Media, no. 14, 1977, pp. 23-25. Retrieved August 24, 2006.
  • Campbell, Russell. Cinema Strikes Back: Radical Filmmaking in the United States 1930-1942. Ann Arbor: UMI Research Press, 1982
  • Leshne, Carla. The Film & Photo League of San Francisco. Film History: An International Journal - Volume 18, Number 4, 2006, pp. 361-373. [1]
  • Seltzer, Leo. Documenting the Depression of the 1930s: The Work of the Film and Photo League in Platt, David, ed. Celluloid Power: Social Film Criticism from the Birth of a Nation to Judgment at Nuremberg Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow Press: 1992
  • Alexander, William. Film on the Left: American Documentary Film From 1931 to 1942. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1981
  • Denning, Michael. The Cultural Front: The Laboring of American Culture in the Twentieth Century. Verso, 1997
  • Daniel Frontino Elash. Exploring New Sources on the Workers Film and Photo League, in Overcoming Silence 9 June 2010[2]