On Wednesday 12 March we're hosting a rare 16mm screening of the remarkable blacklisted American drama Salt of the Earth, 60 years to the week since it was first released in New York City. The screening is followed by a discussion with Sophie Mayer, writer, activist and critical biographer of Sally Potter, hosted by Gareth Evans, Film Curator at Whitechapel Gallery.
Demonised and hounded off screens upon its release, Salt of the Earth is perhaps the most fearlessly independent American film ever made. A collaboration between a trio of filmmakers exiled from McCarthyite Hollywood and a trade union that had been expelled from the national organisation FOR BEING TOO LEFT WING, it portrays the real-life struggles of miners fighting for social justice. It’s unique not only for the passion it brings to its coverage of Mexican American labourers, but to the theme of women’s liberation – from the politics of housework to the fiction of male supremacy.
Immediately controversial – local vigilantes assaulted crew members, its lead actress was deported, a Republican Congressman denounced it as 'a new weapon for Russia', cinemas were bullied into not screening it – Salt of the Earth can now be appreciated for its handsomely photographed and dramatically rousing vision of an alternative America, a vision that’s as compelling and important in 2014 as it was back in 1954.
Salt of the Earth + Discussion, Wed 12 Mar, 6:30 pm | Cinema 1 | £8.00 to £10.00