September 21, 2014 | The Hand That Feeds | Germantown, MD
Germantown, a sleepy DC suburb named for the German immigrants who once owned shops there, is now increasingly home to immigrants from Asia and Latin America. It reminded me a little of Los Angeles, in that extraordinarily delicious world cuisine can be found in the most ordinary-looking strip malls.
Black Rock Center for the Arts brings art and culture to this diverse community, with a sunny gallery space and a brand new theater for live performances. In the audience for my screening was a fellow filmmaker, currently at work on the Wal-Mart labor doc Can’t Take it No More. We commiserated about trying to make a film where most of the action takes place in a store you don’t have access to, and traded some techniques (hidden go-pro cameras, reenactments, workers shooting on their phones).
After the screening it was an honor to share a panel with Rodrigo Guevara of Casa de Maryland, a group that works to build power for Maryland’s low-income immigrant population. When the panel moderator (from DC Docs in Progress) asked what viewers could do to help people like the stars of our film, Guevara suggested joining the struggle for immigration reform. “Come to our rallies,” he said. I also mentioned minimum wage battles (Montgomery County had just raised theirs to $11.50 by 2017) and did my best to paraphrase our star Mahoma’s answer to that question, from an interview clip that never made it into the film.
“Customers shouldn’t be afraid to ask the workers, ‘Hey, how do they treat you in your workplace? Do they treat you alright? Do they pay you alright?’ It’s good to show the managers that there’s an outside community that cares about the workers.”
Post by OSIP touring filmmaker, Robin Blotnick.
To listen to a podcast interview with the filmmaker, click here.