×

Made in L.A.

Almudena Carracedo's debut docu relates a rousing true story of solidarity, perseverance and triumph, following garment workers over a four-year period as they unite to demand minimum wage and decent working conditions in L.A. sweatshops.

With:
With: Maura Colorado, Guadalupe Hernandez, Maria Pineda. (Spanish, English dialogue)

Almudena Carracedo’s debut docu relates a rousing true story of solidarity, perseverance and triumph, following garment workers over a four-year period as they unite to demand minimum wage and decent working conditions in L.A. sweatshops. Deftly interweaving legal battles, national boycotts, group dynamics and individual empowerment, pic offers a personalized history lesson in class struggle. More simplistically heroic than, say, “Harlan County U.S.A.,” “Made in L.A.” could still serve as a populist rallying cry within the movement it chronicles. Docu airs Sept. 4 on PBS’ POV.

Carracedo and producer Robert Bahar wrap their film around three women, tracing their impact on the collective action and, perhaps more dramatically, the radical changes triggered in them by political engagement.

Lupe, thirtysomething, 5-foot-nothing, compensates for her lack of stature in energy and drive, commanding the camera’s focus as she carefully applies makeup to minimize her “ugliness,” or strides about explaining her past. Maura, on the other hand, radiates a certain stillness, never completely in the moment, part of her always thinking about her three children in El Salvador, whom she hasn’t seen in 18 years. Soft-spoken Maria paints a vivid picture of poor working conditions in a shop that locks the doors and allows no bathroom or lunch breaks.

Popular on Variety

The women gather at L.A.’s Garment Worker Center, where they air their grievances and receive a rundown of their rights, supplied in Spanish by the largely Asian-American staff. This pooling of experience also leads to the discovery that the worst sweatshops mass-produce clothing for nationwide retailer Forever 21.

While lawyers pursue a precedent-setting suit that would hold retailers responsible for the conditions under which their product was manufactured, the GWC’s organizers help the garment workers mount a boycott against Forever 21, picketing and chanting slogans outside stores while store managers openly photograph the protestors.

As the boycott and the legal case drag on for three long years, the filmmakers chart the ways the larger struggle complements the shifting fortunes of the pic’s chosen heroines.

Combating constant stage fright, Maura speaks at colleges, her involvement sustaining her when her children disappear en route (illegally) to the U.S. Maria, on the orders of her alcoholic husband, temporarily stops coming to the GWC, only to discover that her commitment to the cause outweighs any lingering spousal allegiance. Lupe, meanwhile, gets increasingly fascinated by the larger picture, eventually becoming an organizer at the GWC.

Soon after the workers force management to grant them legal wages, the garment industry hightails it out of L.A. to the Third World. Yet for those who established a legal precedent and transformed themselves from passive victims to proactive fighters, this seemingly Pyrrhic victory is very real indeed.

Made in L.A.

Production: An ITVS/POV presentation of a Semilla Verde production. Produced by Robert Bahar, Almudena Carracedo. Executive producers, Sally Jo Fifer, Cara Mertes, Simon Kilmurry. Directed by Almudena Carracedo. Written by Carracedo, Robert Bahar, Lisa Leeman.

Crew: Camera (color, HD), Carracedo; editor, Leeman, Kim Roberts, Carracedo; music, Joseph Julian Gonzalez; sound, Glenn T. Morgan, Harry Cohen. Reviewed at New York Latino Film Festival, July 26, 2007. (Also in Silverdocs, Los Angeles film festivals.) Running time: 80 MIN.

With: With: Maura Colorado, Guadalupe Hernandez, Maria Pineda. (Spanish, English dialogue)

More Film

  • Saudi Runaway

    Director Susanne Regina Maures on ‘Saudi Runaway’

    BERLIN —  Robert Montgomery’s “Lady in the Lake” posed the question of whether it’s possible to make a complete film from one POV and yet  create a true emotional connection with an audience if it doesn’t have a face to connect with. “Saudi Runaway” delivers a haunting POV experience via the hands of a woman, [...]

  • Abbas Kiarostami

    India’s Alliance Wraps Berlin Market With Abbas Kiarostami Package Deal (EXCLUSIVE)

    India’s Alliance Media & Entertainment is in the process of acquiring a library of works by late Iranian auteur Abbas Kiarostami for distribution in the Indian subcontinent from France’s MK2 Films. The deal covers 33 features, documentaries and shorts from Kiarostami’s oeuvre, including “Taste of Cherry,” “The Wind Will Carry Us” and “Where Is My [...]

  • Rachel Brosnahan25th Annual Screen Actors Guild

    Film News Roundup: Rachel Brosnahan Starring in Sci-Fi Movie 'Distant'

    In today’s film news roundup, Rachel Brosnahan will try science-fiction, documentaries about Herb Alpert and Sasha Joseph Neulinger find homes, and Cameron Boyce’s “Runt” gets a premiere. CASTING Rachel Brosnahan will star with Anthony Ramos in Amblin Partners’ upcoming comedic sci-fi film “Distant.” Will Speck and Josh Gordon will direct from Spenser Cohen’s script about [...]

  • Aldis Hodge Regina King

    Aldis Hodge Gushes Over Working With First-Time Film Director Regina King

    Regina King is on a roll. After winning an Oscar for “If Beale Street Could Talk” and starring as masked vigilante Sister Knight in HBO’s “Watchmen,” King is gearing up to make her film directing debut with “One Night in Miami.” Adapted by Kemp Powers from his play of the same name, the film dramatizes a [...]

  • Jon Berg

    Netflix Developing Female-Fronted Comedy Film With Jon Berg (EXCLUSIVE)

    Netflix is developing an untitled female-led comedy with producer Jon Berg, the former Warner Bros.’ co-president of production. The writing team of Jordan Roter (“The Tear Down,” “Camp Rules”) and Monica Corcoran Harel (New York Times, Marie Claire) has been attached to write the project. Netflix is keeping the logline under wraps. The project will [...]

  • Bob Chapek Disney CEO

    Why Wall Street Is Unhappy (for Now) With Disney's CEO Change

    We all knew the end was coming. Bob Iger had promised, time and again, that the end was coming. But the rather abrupt announcement Tuesday afternoon that he would relinquish his longtime role as CEO of the Walt Disney Co. — and that theme parks head Bob Chapek would succeed him at the top of [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content