fruits of labor ashley solis emily cohen ibanez
Ashley Solis (left) and filmmaker Emily Cohen Ibañez of the film “Fruits of Labor,” which will be shown during the Reel Works Film Festival. The film covers a local high school girl working in agriculture fields while trying to graduate from high school in Watsonville. Photo by Andrew Kemmis, courtesy of Reversa Films

The 22nd annual Reel Work May Day Labor Film Festival, April 27-May 8, is presented both live and online. 

Viewings are followed by panel discussions with international and local filmmakers. 

An all-volunteer group, many from the labor movement, has been meeting and viewing films since December and has assembled an array of films that honor working people and their ability to organize to make life better for more people.  

Events this year will be held in Santa Cruz, Watsonville, San Juan Bautista, Cal State University Monterey Bay and on Zoom.

Reel Work started in 2002 with Myrna Cherin and Ginny Hirsch, long-time union activists and members of the Retirees Chapter of SEIU Local 415 in Santa Cruz who wanted to make a little money for their retirees’ group. They had the idea of showing movies honoring union organizing. The president of the SEIU Local at that time, Jeffrey Smedberg, who had also been looking for a way for union members to learn their own history, and a small group of local union and community members, coalesced around the idea. 

This year’s festival includes films from around the world and focuses on a variety of occupations, from domestic workers, farmworkers, steelworkers, people in education, women truck drivers, and more. It also includes music and a May Day Rally and March.

Since the festival features live and virtual events, some films can be viewed online. For information and film schedule, visit 

Events are by donation.

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A staff member wrote, edited or posted this article, which may include information provided by one or more third parties.


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