Pennsylvania Communities Fight for Education

Earlier this week, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett signed next year’s Pennsylvania budget, revealing unconscionable cuts to public education. These cuts will negatively impact students, teachers, and school workers and lead towards the elimination of public education. However, Pennsylvania communities have been fighting back, creating a growing movement to take back schools and ensure the human right to education. The end of the 2012-2013 school year has been an opportunity to learn from the powerful momentum that has been built and many lessons learned can be taken into the next stage of the shared fight for the right to education. Read more from one of our partner organizations Media Mobilizing Project .

New U.S. Category at The Human Rights Watch Film Festival

“We don’t want anyone to ever think that we’re giving our country a pass,” John Biaggi, director of the 24th Human Rights Watch Film Festival, explained in reference to the addition of a separate category this year for U.S. human rights issues. This new category at such a renowned human rights film festival highlights the human rights crises and organizing within our own borders in addition to international human rights issues. As a result, these films tell the stories and further movement building around domestic human rights issues.

One of these films, 99 Percent – The Occupy Wall Street Collaborative Film discussed the Occupy movement and how this movement was built out of frustration with contemporary economic and social circumstances. Although the film does not come from a human rights framework explicitly, the film demonstrates the power of movement building around economic and social rights issues in the United States. While the Occupy movement as a whole has been a controversial one, this film highlights how the movement began and why it sought to unite many domestic issues under one movement. As a result, the film is left open-ended, asking the audience if the problems that sparked the movement have really been addressed by Occupy or if the same economic and social issues perpetuate today.

Read more on the new category at the Human Rights Watch Film Festival here

Put People First! PA

Put People First! PA is building a movement across the Pennsylvania to put human needs and human rights first. It hopes to change the conditions that deny families from having quality health care, jobs with a living wage, and decent housing, ensuring that the human rights of Pennsylvania’s citizens are met. As a result, Put People First! PA aims strengthen communities to build a force in Pennsylvania that will Put People First. May Day is an especially appropriate day to remind ourselves that our rights and human dignity have been won through movement building and the accumulation of unstoppable people power!

Sandy Storyline Wins Best Transmedia Award at Tribeca Film Festival

Screen Shot 2013-04-29 at 9.39.10 PM

This incredible story telling project, documents the effects of super storm Sandy on the lives of New York City residents living in low lying coastal areas.The project allows you to see and hear stories of fear and uncertainty along with the stories of an inadequate government response. You also get an inside look at the heroic community relief efforts which unfold as a mosaic of community members supporting community.

This very moving project was put together by some very creative folks in the social justice movement; including Reels for Rights supporters Laura Gottesdiener, Rachel Falcone and Michael Premo. We congratulate them on their win at the Tribeca Film Festival this year for best Transmedia.

To find out more about Sandy Storyline

Gasland 2 Premiere at Tribeca Film Festival


Another full house standing ovation to close out Gasland 2 at Tribeca Film Festival! The 2010 Oscar®-nominated exposé Gasland, inspired a national dialogue over the multi-layered environmental dangers of the fracking process. In Gasland Part II, director Josh Fox travels from the Gulf of Mexico to the heart of Texas and back up to the Deleware River Basin to examine the long-run impact of the controversial process. These impacts include poisonous water, earthquakes and neurological damage, placing his focus on the people whose lives have been irreparably changed. The International Wow Company, a Reels for Rights partnering organization, has produced a follow- up not-to-be-missed.

Get ready for the grassroots tour and HBO premiere over the summer! Sign up at to receive updates about how you can attend grassroots screenings, host watch parties for our TV premiere and more!

MLK Jr.’s Fight for Economic Justice Continues

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated this day in 1968 in Memphis, where he was supporting striking sanitation workers as a part of his Poor People’s Campaign. Over a thousand workers went on strike to protest unfair wages, discrimination, and unsafe working conditions that took the lives of two of their own. Forty five years later, sanitation workers, like many workers and communities, continue to face privatization of their jobs, unsafe and hazardous working conditions, and low wages. This beautiful video from AFSCME reminds us that the sanitation workers’ fight for fair working conditions has and must continue unabated. Their stories and voices– in 1968 and now– remind us that human dignity does not come granted for all, but must be ensured and seized with collective human power.

Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Anniversary and the BP Oil Spill Aftermath


Today is the 102nd anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory catastrophe. Bridge the Gulf’s Cherri Foytlin, who attended our Forum last winter, coined a beautiful piece that draws from the lessons of organizing in the aftermath of the disaster, leading to the implementation of factory labor safety standards. She discusses the trials that followed the catastrophe and how those in charge of the factory were held responsible. As a result, she questions how well modern day corporations ensure public and worker safety, issues that were raised after the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory tragedy on March 25, 1911.

“Although the managers were acquitted of charges of manslaughter, it was the civil trial that exposed the practice of obstructing worker safety in service to corporate profit. That trial essentially altered the history of factory labor safety standards in the United States.

 And now, here in the year 2013, we find ourselves once again at the pinnacle of decisions concerning what we will expect from a corporation, and a whole industry, regarding worker and public safety.”

She points out that we stand in a similar moment in time in the wake of the BP Oil Disaster, as those suffering from the many impacts of BP’s commitment to profit over humanity demand a full civil trial and full disclosure of facts.

“Just like those who battled for worker rights after the garment fire, we must stand now and demand a full civil trial, with full disclosure of the facts, surrounding the BP Deepwater Drilling Disaster.”

Read more from Cherri Foytlin on the parallels between these two disasters here.

The Coalition of Immokalee Workers’ March for Rights, Respect and Fair Food

Reels for Rights was proud to show a beautiful and uplifting video from the Coalition of Immokalee Workers at our public screening last November. The CIW, a community-based organization in Florida mostly comprised of low-wage immigrant workers, began their march earlier this month to demand that Publix end its neglection to the Fair Food Program and respect the human rights of the farm workers.The CIW and their supporters are now nearing the end of their March for Rights, Respect and Fair Food. Please watch and follow as they prevail upon Publix to join the Fair Food Program and uphold the basic human rights of farm workers.

By the Coalition of Immokalee Workers

Media Mobilizing Project’s 2012 Montage

Pennsylvania’s Media Mobilizing Project tells the story of the growing human rights movement through their annual montage of community-produced videos documenting a wide range of grassroots struggles that are uniting across the country:

Chat with Dear Mandela Filmmakers TODAY, 1/29/2013

Dear Mandela will begin its public television broadcast tonight at 7pm EST on the WORLD channel. It will be broadcast throughout the month of February. To find out where to watch in your zip code, click here.

You can also watch a trailer and clips online today at 4pm EST and chat with the filmmakers at the same time in a social screening chat room OVEE. Join and spread the word! Dear Mandela is also streaming right now here, where you can watch at any time.

Also, read co-director and producer Dara Kell’s reflections on the Dear Mandela U.S. tour here.