The Manhattan Front - This micro-budget period piece is staged as if in a dollhouse. Interweaving color live action with b&w (never-before-seen) archival material from 1915, the film tells the story of how the IWW interrupted the export of munitions during WW1.
Once upon a time, in 1915, a German saboteur arrived to Manhattan to interrupt the export of American munitions to Britain. He soon finds a collaborator in a wayward stevedore who unwittingly leads him to a group of labor anarchists. Sabotage and betrayal soon turn these bedfellows into agents of the other’s tragic end. In the spirit of a silent film from the era, this musical melodrama plays itself out through the interaction of archival images and the theatrical rendition of lives as they might have been lived on The Manhattan Front. (2018, 1 hr 26 min)
Followed by a Special Panel Discussion with representatives from SAG-AFTRA and Writers Guild of America (WGA) East on how to keep your low budget indie film under union contract. Q&A with Director Cathy Lee Crane. Special Guests: Executive VP for SAG-AFTRA and President of NY SAG-AFTRA , Rebecca Damon; Director of Outreach at WGA East, Jenna Bond; Director of “The Manhattan Front”, Cathy Lee Crane; Assistant Director for Electronic Media Services at AFM, John K. Painting.
A shoe-string period movie was a challenge, and Cathy met it with a maestria we can only salute. Her subject is complex, an essential (tragic) episode in the history of the “American” left and a crucial moment in the progress of US women: set in Manhattan during WW1, she evokes both the work of women in the munitions industry, and the way the capitalist establishment used the war effort to destroy the most radical labor union your country has ever known, the Industrial Workers of the World, the “Wobblies”... This is a melodrama, with German spies hiding bombs in cigars, with German-American traitors. Cathy’s approach to this complex material is resolutely experimental, with brilliantly conceived visual metaphors and disconcerting juxtapositions. - Noël Burch, Co-Director of “The Forgotten Space” and “Red Hollywood”