Radical 1942 anti-fascist docu-drama ‘Native Land’ to screen in L.A.
K.B. Solomon as Paul Robeson

LOS ANGELES—Marx @ 200: The Marxist Movie Series presents a rare screening of Native Land on Thurs., June 28.

This classic 1942 pro-union, anti-racist, anti-fascist docu-drama was the final film by the leftist collective Frontier Films and of Paul Robeson. Fed up with Hollywood’s celluloid stereotypes of Blacks, Robeson quit the movies. But before doing so, the singer/actor/activist narrated and sang “American Day” and “Dusty Sun” in the independently produced, anti-KKK Native Land.

The screening features commentary by three experts on subjects related to this film: Progressive film historian/critic Ed Rampell introduces the film and will lead the Q&A following. K.B. Solomon, the renowned Paul Robeson re-enactor, will perform songs Robeson helped to make famous. And Eric Gordon, People’s World writer and the first biographer of Marc Blitzstein, who wrote the Native Land musical score and songs, will recall incidents surrounding the making of the film and perform one of the numbers from it.

The 80-minute Native Land was directed by two of the New Deal era’s top progressive filmmakers, Frontier Films’ Leo Hurwitz and Paul Strand. Both were cameramen for 1936’s The Plow That Broke the Plains and worked on 1936’s Redes (aka The Wave, about poor Mexican fishermen), as well as the 1937 Spanish Civil War documentary Heart of Spain. Hurwitz directed the 1948 documentary about racism, Strange Victory.

Native Land was written by Ben Maddow, who also wrote 1937’s China Strikes Back and Heart of Spain. Composer Marc Blitzstein was famous for 1937’s The Cradle Will Rock, the pro-worker musical banned by the Federal Theatre Project on Broadway. Native Land includes news footage and re-enactments, featuring Howard Da Silva, who performed in The Cradle Will Rock and was later blacklisted.

Native Land screens on Thursday, June 28. Doors open at 7:00 pm, and the program starts at 7:30 pm. Refreshments are served, and donations are requested. The screening takes place at the L.A. Workers Center, 1251 S. St. Andrews Pl., Los Angeles 90019, two blocks west of Western Ave., accessible only from Pico Blvd.

Marx @ 200: The Marxist Movie Series commemorates the bicentennial of Karl Marx’s birth by screening films by and/or about Marxists. For the complete schedule see here.  For info contact: 200MarxMMS@gmail.com.


Special to People’s World
Special to People’s World

People’s World is a voice for progressive change and socialism in the United States. It provides news and analysis of, by, and for the labor and democratic movements to our readers across the country and around the world. People’s World traces its lineage to the Daily Worker newspaper, founded by communists, socialists, union members, and other activists in Chicago in 1924.