The Social Factory Show

Curated by Dara Greenwald and Paige Sarlin

“The Social Factory Show,” designed by Josh MacPhee

“The Social Factory Show,” designed by Josh MacPhee

The Social Factory Show brings together documentaries that explore the role of women’s work in the production of daily life under capitalism in three different countries (US, Mexico, India). Employing vastly different formal strategies, this class-conscious line-up confronts us with a range of images and sounds that demonstrate what has and hasn’t changed over the last 40 years. This evening features one of the most important, but rarely screened, early collectively-made feminist films, Woman’s Film (1971), a film by Chick Strand, a central (but under-recognized) figure in American Avant-Garde Film, and a recent video that explores the effects of globalization by Sonali Gulati. All of these documentaries offer complex portraits of women’s work and illustrate cinema’s ability to show us how our society is produced and re-produced.

The idea of the “social factory” comes out of a group of Italian autonomous Marxist and feminist thinkers who in the 1970’s analyzed the many forms of labor that contribute to the reproduction of society both inside and outside of the traditional factory. The analysis reflected on gendered divisions of labor in the social factory in that women’s work was most often unpaid and not recognized as “work.” These ideas set a framework for understanding the various forms of free labor that maintain our social relations, our bodies, feelings, and minds. Coming together to watch these pieces, we can reflect on the persistence of these dynamics and what role cinema has had and continues to have in provoking recognition through the representation of difference.

FEATURING: Sonali Gulati, “Nalini By Day, Nancy by Night” (2005); Chick Strand, “Fake Fruit” (1986); Newsreel, “Woman’s Film” (1971)

“Nalini By Day, Nancy by Night,” Sonali Gulati (India/US), 2005, video, color, sound, 27 minutes
“In this insightful documentary, filmmaker Sonali Gulati explores complex issues of globalization, capitalism and identity through a witty and personal account of her journey into India¹s call centers. Gulati, herself an Indian immigrant living in the US, explores the fascinating ramifications of outsourcing telephone service jobs to India–including how native telemarketers take on Western names and accents to take calls from the US, UK and Australia.

A fresh juxtaposition of animation, archival footage, live action shots and narrative work highlight the filmmaker’s presence and reveal the performative aspects of her subjects. With fascinating observations on how call centers affect the Indian culture and economy, NALINI BY DAY, NANCY BY NIGHT raises important questions about the complicated consequences of globalization.” — Women Make Movies

“Fake Fruit,” Chick Strand (US), 1986, 16mm, color, sound, 22 minutes
“Intimate documentary about young women who make papier mache fruit and vegetables in a small factory in Mexico. They have a gringo boss, but the factory is owned by his Mexican wife. The focus of the film is on the color, music and movement involved, and the gossip which goes on constantly, revealing what the young women think about men.” — Chick Strand

“Woman’s Film,” Newsreel (US), 1971, 16mm on video, b&w, sound, 40 minutes
The film was made entirely by women in San Francisco NEWSREEL. It was a collective effort between the women behind the camera and those in front of it. The script itself was written from preliminary interviews with the women in the film. Their participation, their criticism, and approval were sought at various stages of production.

“… What we see is not only natural and spontaneous, it is thoughtful and beautiful. It is a film which immediately evokes the sights and sounds and smells of working class kitchens, neighborhood streets, local supermarkets, factories, cramped living rooms, dinners cooking, diaper-washing, housecleaning, and all the other “points of production” and battlefronts where working class women in America daily confront the realities of their oppression. It is . . . a supremely optimistic statement, showing the sinews of struggle and capturing the essential energy and collective spirit of all working people-and especially that advanced consciousness which working class women bring to the common struggle.” — Irwin Silber, Guardian.