Working class cinema: a video guide

After Hours directed by Martin Scorsese's guide to working class films and TV shows, showing class struggles, revolutionary situations and everyday lives.

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Arranged alphabetically in order of the nationality of the director (or creator in the case of TV shows with multiple directors).


Brad Anderson

  • The Machinist (2004) - Christian Bale stars as a factory worker whose insomnia has left him emaciated, and whose colleagues turn against him when he was involved in a workplace accident causing one worker to lose an arm.

Shari Springer Berman

  • American Splendor - Adaptation of Harvey Pekar's comic series, which he wrote whilst working as a file clerk in a hospital.

Herbert J. Biberman

  • Salt of the Earth (1953) - Film based on the 1951 miners' strike in New Mexico, and starring many of those involved, it shows how miners and their families all take part in the long hard struggle against the mining company. Made in 1953, it was originally banned as part of the 'Red Scare'.

Kathryn Bigelow

  • Strange Days (1995) - An enjoyable if flawed sci-fi action movie, part of which seeks to investigate the nature of voyeurism via memory implants.

Lizzie Borden

  • Born in Flames (1983) - Sci-fi flick about a post-revolutionary social democratic NYC in which gender and race issues have not been solves. In mockumentary style, it follows two women's guerrilla groups, one majority white and one majority POC.

James Bridges

  • The China Syndrome - A nuclear reactor almost goes into meltdown, whilst a team of reporters are on site covering a story.

Steve Buscemi

  • Trees Lounge - A mechanic, sacked for stealing out of the till, drinks his sorrows away over one summer in a Bukowski-esque anti-tale.

John Carpenter

  • Escape from New York and Escape from LA - Bakunin with an eyepatch is forced to save the world.
  • They Live - A special pair of sunglasses reveal billboards and adverts aren't what they seem.

Coen brothers

  • Barton Fink (1991) - Film about a playwright working in Hollywood in 1941 exploring high and low culture, fascism, World War II and working conditions in the creative industries.
  • The Big Lebowski - The Dude is a loafer that would have made Paul Lafargue blush. When a case of mistaken identity ruins his rug, he is dragged into something far bigger.

Laurie Collyer

  • Sherrybaby (2006) - Maggie Gyllenhaal plays a young drug addict who leaves prison to collect her child from family members who have been looking after her.

Ivan Dixon

  • The Spook Who Stood by the Door (1973) - The CIA hires a token black agent, who then uses his skills to help the militant black power movement. With a soundtrack by Herbie Hancock.

Bill Duke

  • Deep Cover - Focusing on the role of the police in the war on drugs, an undercover cop begins to enjoy the rewards.

Ava DuVernay

  • Selma (2014) - Dramatisation of the civil rights march from Selma to Montgomery in 1965 for voting rights for African-Americans.

Ryan Fleck

  • Half Nelson - A radical inner city school teacher battles his demons with crack cocaine whilst trying to inspire his class.
  • Sugar - Miguel has dreamt all his life of leaving the Dominican Republican to play baseball professionally but he soon discovers it isn't all it's cracked up to be.

John Ford

  • Grapes of Wrath (1940) - Classic film adaptation of Steinbeck's superb book depicting dispossessed peasant farmers from Oklahoma migrate to California to become wage labourers.

John Flynn

  • Rolling Thunder - A tortured Vietnam veteran returns home to suburban America but nothing will be the same again.

John Frankenheimer

  • Seconds - When an middle aged man trades his identity and his face, he only realises what he's given up when it's too late.

William Friedkin

  • Sorcerer - Remake of Wages for Fear.

Brian Goodman

  • What Doesn't Kill You - A small time criminal struggles to pay the bills and support his family.

Colin Higgins

  • 9 to 5 (1980) - Comedy three female office workers realise their dream of overthrowing their sexist, egotistical and bigoted bosses.

Albert Hughes

  • Dead Presidents - A black Vietnam vet joins a political organisation funding itself with armed robbery, based on the story of Haywood T. Kirkland.

John Huston

Patty Jenkins

  • Monster (2003) - Crime drama based on the real story of a sex worker who was executed for killing six men.

Mike Judge

  • Office Space - When Peter sees an hypnotherapist, he inadvertently begins a refusal of work while his friends at the company are going to be made redundant and want revenge.

Jeremy Kagan

  • Katherine (1975, a.k.a. The Radical) - Low-budget TV movie based on the life of Diana Oughton of the Weather Underground urban guerrilla group, starring Henry Winkler of Fonzie fame.

Barbara Kopple

  • Harlan County USA - Documentary of the 1976 Brookside strike and the subsequent agreement.

Stanley Kubrick

  • Spartacus (1960) - Historical epic about the [URL=’-spartacus-politics-servile-rebellion-late-republic] Spartacus slave rebellion[/URL].
  • The Killing - The robbery on a racetrack has been meticulously planned, but a scheming wife could end up getting someone killed, if they can pull it off.

Spike Lee

  • Do the Right Thing - Film set in a New York neighbourhood, where class and racial tensions collide on the hottest day of the summer.
  • Malcolm X - Biopic on the life of black power leader, Malcolm X, from his childhood through to his conversion to Islam in prison and his eventual split with the Nation of Islam.
  • Summer of Sam - Broad look at the white community in the South Bronx of 1977, with punk, disco and the serial killer Son of Sam raging over a summer.

Sidney Lumet

  • Network - When a news reporter is thrown off the air for voicing subversive opinions, the network see in him an opportunity to increase ratings.

Adrian Lyne

  • Jacob's Ladder - A Vietnam veteran suffers delusions from the alleged drug trials administered during the war.

Michael Mann

  • Heat - Work is the obsession for criminals and police alike, in this melancholy noir.
  • Collateral - One night with a taxi driver, whose fare is a hitman directing him to his jobs around the city.

Andrew Niccol

  • In Time - Time has replaced capital, and life runs out for those with nothing left on their clock.

Jeff Nichols

  • Take Shelter - A construction contractor struggles with the recession and his worsening grip on reality.

Mike Nichols

  • Silkwood - Based on the true story of Karen Silkwood, who raised concerns about radiation from the nuclear plant she worked at and was found dead in suspicious circumstances.

Kimberly Peirce

  • Boys Don't Cry (1999) - Powerful dramatisation of the real story of Brandon Teena, a young trans man who was brutally murdered by a group of male acquaintances after they discovered he had female genitalia.

Kevin Reynolds

  • Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991) - Riproaring action flick about England's legendary folk hero, Robin Hood, who stole from the rich and gave to the poor.

Martin Ritt

  • Norma Rae - Inspired by a speech, a factory worker begins to organise at her workplace, based on the story of Crystal Lee Sutton.

Mark Romanek

  • Never Let Me Go (2010) - A love triangle develops between three friends coming-of-age in a dystopian England.

George Romero

  • Dawn of the Dead - 4 people hold up in a shopping centre as the zombies have taken over, and try to return to normality
  • Land of the Dead - The zombies begin organising against the last remaining human city in the US.

Stuart Rosenberg

  • Cool Hand Luke (1967) - A petty criminal refuses to conform to a brutal prison system and inspires his fellow inmates.

Gary Ross and Francis Lawrence

  • The Hunger Games (2012-2015) - 4-part film series of action film adaptations of the sci-fi novels of the same name by Suzanne Collins, where a teenage girl takes on a dystopian United States' dictatorial government.

Richard Sarafin

  • Vanishing Point - A car courier races across the country to make an impossible delivery, with an ending that symbolised the death of the hippie movement.

Tom Savini

  • Night of the Living Dead 1990 - Improved remake of the civil rights film with zombies, which places the damsel in distress of the original, Barbra, as a strong leader.

John Sayles

  • Matewan - The story of the Battle in Matewan, 1920, where miners fought private police.

Paul Schrader

  • Light Sleeper - An ageing drug dealer is faced with finding legitimate employment.
  • Blue Collar - 3 workers strapped for cash decide to rob their ineffectual union.
  • American Gigolo - A gigolo for the wealthy becomes embroiled in scandal when he falls for a senator's wife.

Martin Scorsese

  • Taxi Driver - Damaged Vietnam vet cum taxi driver battles with New York, and himself.
  • After Hours - A chance date for an office worker turns into a nightmare trying to get back home in time for tomorrow's shift.
  • Bringing Out the Dead - An overworked and conscientious ambulance driver begins to slip into insanity.

David Simon

  • Generation Kill (2008) - TV miniseries dramatising the journalistic account of a Rolling Stone journalist embedded in a US military unit in Iraq.
  • The Corner (2000) - TV miniseries looking at the lives of poor working class people in Baltimore against the background of the war on drugs.
  • The Wire (2002-8) - Widely considered the best TV show ever made, The Wire examines the major institutions of American society over five series, revealing the flaws of the police, the courts, the prisons, the media, politicians, organise crime and more.

Tarsem Singh

  • The Fall - A stuntman lies in the hospital bed, paralysed from his first film, where he befriends a small girl and loses himself in fantastical storytelling.

Gary Sinise

  • Of Mice and Men (1992) - Film adaptation of Steinbeck's book which follows two farm labourers who dream of owning their own land.

Mario Van Peebles

  • Panther - Film depicting the rise and fall of the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense, and the American government campaign against them. Based on real events but unfortunately with a big dose of Hollywood exaggeration, particularly at the end of the film.

Fred Zinneman

  • Behold a Pale Horse (1964) - Film loosely based on the life of anarchist guerrilla [URL= francisco-sabate-llopart] Sabate[/URL], it depicts an exiled Republican bandit who returns to Spain while police set a trap.


  • Into the West (2005) - TV miniseries which tells the story of the birth of modern America from the perspective of Native Americans, and working class white and black people.


Santiago Grasso

  • Empleo - A man makes his way to work, finding people being used as objects.

Héctor Olivera

  • La Patagonia Rebelde - Based on anarchist Osvaldo Bayer's book, this is the true story of the massacre of FORA organised labourers in the 1920s.


Gillian Armstrong

  • My Brilliant Career (1979) - At the dawn of the 20th century a young woman in the Australian outback dreams of becoming a writer.

Belinda Cheyko

  • City Loop (2000, originally known as Bored Olives) - A group of bored pizzeria workers seek pleasure over the course of the night.

Andrew Dominik

  • Killing Them Softly - The Boston mob sends a hitman to kill those responsible for a card game robbery during the 2012 presidential election.

John Hillcoat

  • Ghosts of the Civil Dead - Both prison guards and prisoners are manipulated into a riot to secure funding for a new maximum security complex.

David Michod

  • Animal Kingdom (2010) - The gritty story of a teenager in a criminal family, and a detective who thinks he can save him.

George Miller

  • Mad Max and Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior - The defining films of what the apocalypse will look like, petrol has become the only commodity in a world of fast cars and dangerous roads.

Michael Rymer

  • Angel Baby - A man released from a mental institution struggles to stay healthy with a baby on the way and his first job in years.

Stephen Wallace

  • Stir - Written by an inmate involved, Stir shows what provoked the 1974 Bathurst Jail riots.


Chantal Akerman

  • Jeanne Dielman, 23, Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles (1975) - Film which follows a single-mother and sex worker as she monotonously goes through the tasks of housework and daily reproduction in real time.

Agnes Varda

  • Cleo From 5 To 7 (1961) - A young woman walks round Paris as she waits for the results of a medical examination – a finely observed study of anxiety and the search for hope.


Andrea Arnold

  • Fish Tank (2009) - A volatile 15-year-old girl lives with her mother in East London council estate, and her mother's boyfriend becomes attracted to her. Trigger warning for domestic violence and underage sex.
  • Red Road (2006) - A female CCTV operator in Glasgow spots a man from her past and begins to monitor him. Trigger warning for sexual violence.

Roy Battersby

  • Leeds United! (1974) - This film tells the story of the 1970 wildcat strike by around 30,000 mostly female textile workers in Leeds, who battled the employers and their own union.

Alan Bleasdale

  • Boys from the Blackstuff (1982) - 6 part TV miniseries looking at the lives of intermittently-employed casual Liverpudlian tarmac workers.
  • GBH (1991) - 7 part TV miniseries with a fictionalised account of Derek Hatton of Militant running Liverpool Council in the 1980s.

Charlie Chaplin

  • Modern Times (1936) - Chaplin plays a factory worker overwhelmed by the machinery of his workplace, and depicts the impact of the great depression on working people.
  • The Great Dictator (1940) - A satirical spoof on Hitler produced during World War II, as Chaplin portrays both anti-Semitic dictator and his doppelgänger, a Jewish barber. Contains one of the most memorable speeches in film history.
  • The Immigrant (1917) - A silent romantic comedy in which Chaplin plays a migrant to the US who is accused of theft on his voyage.
  • The Kid (1921) - Chaplin's first full-length film, where his "Tramp" character adopts a child abandoned by his unwed mother and they become partners in crime.

Alan Clarke

  • Scum - Nihilistic drama set in a young offenders institute.
  • Elephant - Experimental short about the Troubles in Northern Ireland.

Nigel Cole

  • Made in Dagenham (2010) - Dramatisation of the 1968 strike by female workers at Ford's plant in Dagenham, Essex, for pay parity with men.

Paddy Considine

  • Tyrannosaur - A bitter alcoholic finds salvation in a woman who seems to be perfect on the outside, but harbours an unhappy secret.

Bill Douglas

  • My Childhood (1972) - Autobiographical first part of a trilogy set in Scotland in the 1940s. Set in a mining village with material and emotional poverty, this is about as far from Hollywood cinema as you can get.

Terry Gilliam

  • Brazil (1985) - Dystopian epic in which a low level state bureaucrat who escapes the drudgery of his job into flights of fancy, becomes embroiled in a real adventure when he attempts to resolve a financial irregularity.

Mark Herman

  • Brassed Off (1996) - Comedy drama about the difficulties faced by a colliery brass band when its pit is facing closure.

Duncan Jones

  • Moon - The moon has been colonised, and is manned for 3 years. Sam Bell is coming to the end of his contract when he begins to experience hallucinations.

Mike Leigh

  • Naked - A drifter meets similarly lost souls whilst living on the streets of London.

Ken Loach

  • Ae Fond Kiss… (2004) - Sparks fly in Glasgow when an Asian man begins a relationship with a white woman.
  • Cathy Come Home (1966) - Hugely influential, documentary-style feature length TV special highlighting issues of homelessness, unemployment and social services. Housing charity Shelter was set up in its wake.
  • Kes (1969) - A young English working class boy spends his spare time caring for his pet kestrel.
  • Land and Freedom (1995) - Loose adaptation of George Orwell's Homage to Catalonia, following the [url =/tags/poum] POUM [/URL] fighting in the Spanish Revolution.
  • Sweet Sixteen (2002) - Determined to have a normal life once his mother gets out of prison, a Scottish teenager tries to save money for a home.
  • Riff Raff (1991) - Comedy following the everyday lives of a construction worker, his girlfriend and an unemployed pop star.
  • The Navigators (2001) - Film following five railway workers affected by the 1995 privatisation of British Rail and how this changes their lives.
  • The Wind That Shakes the Barley (2006) - Against the backdrop of the Irish War of Independence, two brothers fighting the resistance to the British, but take two different paths.

Steve McQueen

  • 12 Years a Slave (2013) - Powerful dramatisation of the tale of Solomon Northup, a free African-American who was kidnapped into slavery.

Shane Meadows

  • This is England, This is England '86 and This is England '88 - Documenting a group of skinheads as they grow up in a northern town.
  • Dead Man's Shoes - A Gulf War veteran returns his home town to dish out revenge to local gangsters responsible for an unknown crime.

Sam Mendes

  • Jarhead (2005) - A realistic look at the daily life of US troops in the first Iraq war, and the boredom and isolation they face.

Lewis Milestone

  • Mutiny on the Bounty (1962) - Dramatisation of the famous mutiny against authoritarian Capt Bligh.

Gary Oldman

  • Nil by Mouth - Life for an extended family on a South London council estate.

Tony Richardson

Ridley Scott

  • Alien - Space workers are hunted down by an unnatural force.
  • Blade Runner - Four androids look to extend their lifespan whilst being hunted by a policeman, in a dystopic Los Angeles.

Martin Stellman

  • For Queen and Country (1988) - Denzel Washington stars as a discharged British paratrooper who returns from the Falklands, re-enter civilian life and faces poverty, racism and discrimination.

Matthew Warchus

  • Pride (2014) - Utterly superb dramatisation of the story of Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners: a group of gay men and lesbians based on London who collected money to support miners on strike 1984-5.


Gary Burns

  • Waydowntown - Office workers bet their salaries who can last the longest without stepping outside, using Calgary's skywalks to get around.


Gonzalo Justiniano

  • Candy or Mint (1990) - Niki and his friends are members of the marginalised underclass living on the outskirts of Santiago. During Chile's transition from dictatorship to democracy (1988-1990), they forge a path from drug- and drink-fuelled nihilism and petty crime into the world of market-driven illegality and Niki begins a seemingly predestined relationship with the middle-class "loca", Manuela.

Pablo Larrain

  • Fuga - The manuscript of a composer is rediscovered by students. They learn how he came to wrote it, and how it was sent him to an asylum.
  • Tony Manero - A man obsessed with the character from Saturday Night Fever is due to enter a television contest to crown the best Manero impersonator, whilst Pinochet's disappearances carry on in the background.


Tsai Ming-liang

  • Rebels of a Neon God - A pair of friends make their living robbing arcade machine chips.

Li Yang

  • Blind Shaft - Two men killing miners for compensation find a conscience.

Jia Zhangke

  • Unknown Pleasures - Two unemployed friends chain smoke and wander about.


Nicolas Winding Refn

  • Pusher trilogy - Interconnected stories of drug dealers falling from grace in Copenhagen.
  • Drive - A single mother falls for a moonlighter who'll do anything to protect her.

Thomas Vinterberg

  • The Celebration (1998, aka Festen) - At a big celebration of a bourgeois family, a secret emerges. Warning for discussion of themes which some find triggering.


Paul Verhoeven

  • Starship Troopers (1997) - Argentinian Aryans fight bugs in space.
  • Total Recall (1990) - Sci-fi action classic, in which a construction worker in a dystopian future goes to have memories implanted of a trip to Mars, where there is an ongoing rebellion.


Aki Kaurismäki

  • Shadows in Paradise - A binman falls in love with a supermarket checkout girl he sees on his rounds.


Jacques Becker

  • Le Trou - Four tight knit prisoners have been preparing their breakout for months when a new cellmate is added. Can they trust him?

Jean-Louis Comolli

  • La Cecilia - Based on Giovanni Rossi's memoirs of the little known Colonia Cecilia, the Brazilian emperor offers land to anarchists to create a commune. But tensions grow as they try to shake off the beliefs of the old world.

Henri-Georges Clouzot

  • Wages of Fear - A group of destitute men in South America agree to drive explosives across the country in a bid to escape.

Catherine Breillat

  • Fat Girl (2001) - Controversial film centring on the relationship between two sisters, 15 and 12 years, and their attitudes to sex - it is a cruel though perhaps honest depiction – the result is dark and disturbing.

Christine Edzard

  • Little Dorrit (1987) - Critically acclaimed two-part screen adaption of Dickens’ teeming novel of corruption, capitalism and greed.

Marin Karmitz

  • Blow for Blow (1972) - Film about a wildcat strike at a textile plant in rural France. Produced in a democratic manner, the film mixes actors with real workers playing themselves and falls somewhere between being a documentary and a work of fiction.

Louis Malle

  • Viva Maria! (1965) - Comedy adventure starring Brigitte Bardot. Two women meet in Central America in 1907 and become revolutionaries.
    Jean Vigo

    • Zero for Conduct (1933) - Featurette by the anarchist director depicting the bureaucratic and repressive school system. The film was swiftly banned in France until 1946.


    Fatih Akin

    • Head On -Two people of Turkish descent in Germany hospitalised for attempted suicide decide to have a sham marriage, to free Sibyl from her conservative Muslim family.

    Slatan Dudow

    • To Whom Does the World Belong - The trials and tribulations of an unemployable Berlin family.

    Werner Herzog

    • Strozeck (1977) - In Berlin, an alcoholic man leaves prison, joins an elderly friend and the prostitute and tries to realise history of leaving Germany and moving to Wisconsin.

    Phil Jutzi

    • Mother Krause's Journey to Happiness - A family struggle in poverty in Weimar Germany, finding salvation too late.

    Fritz Lang

    • Metropolis - An industrialist's son swaps places with a worker and agitates for insurrection, having fallen for a schoolteacher.

    Volker Schlöndorff

    • Coup de grace - The Russian Revolution is on the doorstep of a Prussian army camp in Latvia, as sexual tensions grow.

    Margarethe von Trotta

    • Marianne and Julianne (1981, aka The German Sisters) - Based on the real life sisters associated with the Baader- Meinhof group, von Trotta explores the complexity of the sister’s relationship and of women’s resistance and revolt.

    Henner Winckler

    • Lucy - A teenage mother has to decide whether she wants the responsibility of bringing up a child.

    Hong Kong

    Fruit Chan

    • The Longest Summer - British soldiers made redundant after the handover of Hong Kong decide to rob a bank.

    Johnnie To

    • Life Without Principle - Austerity noir, following different people's lives affected by the economic crisis.

    Wong Kar-wai

    • In the Mood for Love - A couple, whose respective spouses are cheating with one another, deny themselves from doing the same, in a seductive account of conservative 1960s Hong Kong.


    Miklós Jancsó

    • The Red and the White - Scenic look at the reprisals by both communists and White Guards during the Russian Revolution.


    Dagur Kári

    • Noi the Albino - A truant teenager falls in love with a girl in a diner and dreams of escaping his seaside home.


    Joe Comerford

    • Traveller (1981) - On a smuggling journey into Northern Ireland a young woman traveller tells her husband of her father’s violent sexual attacks. Trigger warning.

    Jim Sheridan

    • The Field (1990) - West Coast tenant farmer Bull McCabe (Richard Harris) asserts a moral right to a field he has created and worked for years, as he refuses to accept the idea that there can be a market in land.


    Guido Chiesa

    • Working Slowly - Film set amongst the youth movement in 1970s Bologna, with the refusal of work, sexual freedom and cultural provocations it entailed. Made with the collaboration of the Wu Ming Foundation, it covers the radical pirate radio station Radio Alice and the 1977 rebellion.
    • Johnny the Partisan - Story of an English literature student who escapes into the mountains to join the Italian resistance of fascism.

    Sergio Corbucci

    • The Great Silence - Bleak Western set in a snowy blizzard. A mute gunslinger tries to defend a town from outlaws.

    Giuseppe De Santis

    • Bitter Rice (1949) - A good example of Italian neorealist filmmaking, Bitter Rice begins at the start of the rice-planting season in northern Italy. In an effort to escape the law two small-time thieves hide amongst the crowds of female workers heading to the rice fields of the Po Valley.

    Vittorio De Sica

    • Bicycle Thieves (1948) - Story of a poor father searching post-World War II Rome for his stolen bicycle, without which he will lose the job which was to be the salvation of his young family.

    Marco Tullio Giordana

    • One Hundred Steps - The true story of Giuseppe Impastato, a communist anti-mafia campaigner in Sicily, set against the backdrop of Italian politics in the 1970s.

    Sergio Leone

    • Duck, You Sucker (1971, aka A Fistful of Dynamite) - Superb spaghetti Western, in English, where an IRA explosives expert gets involved with a group of amoral Mexican bandits amidst the Mexican Revolution.

    Marco Leto

    • Black Holiday (1973, aka La Villeggiatura) - A liberal professor of law is interned on a prison island at the time of Fascism, where he finally gets a political education from the working class prisoners.

    Daniele Luchetti

    • My Brother is an Only Child - Story of two brothers in a working class Italian family, one who becomes a Communist while the other decides to become a fascist.

    Giuliano Montaldo

    Ermanno Olmi

    • Il Posto - A school leaver enters into the world of work whilst falling in love for the first time.

    Elio Petri

    • The Working Class Goes to Heaven - Operaismo inspired film of a Stakhanovite factory worker turning radical. The star, Gian Maria Volonte, was a real member of the Italian Communist Party.
    • Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion - Dramatic, psychological crime film in which Gian Maria Volonte plays a top police officer who murders his girlfriend and plants obvious clues to test whether other officers would charge him for his crime.

    Roberto Rossellini

    • Rome, Open City - Classic film about a working class Italian partisan, fighting fascism during the last days of the Nazi's occupation of Rome.
    • Paisan - Film split into six different episodes covering all of Italy towards the end of the Second World War, from the Americans landing in Sicily to the Venetian resistance to fascism in the north.

    Paolo and Vittorio Taviani

    • Padre Padrone (1977) - A classic film based on fact, a boy aged six is taken from school into the mountains where he works alone for years as his father’s shepherd – until he breaks free.

    Lina Wertmuller

    • Seven Beauties (1975) - A controversial film of a man’s ignoble survival in World War II - a mix of farce and satire, of some interest and very unpleasant.


    Jafar Panahi

    • Offside (2006) - A female fan tries illegally to slip into the Iranian football team’s 2005 World Cup qualifying tie against Bahrain.

    Marjane Satrapi

    • Persepolis - Adaptation of the comic, a girl growing up begins to question the Iranian revolution.


    Perry Henzell

    • The Harder They Come (1972) - A memorable story of poverty, drugs, corruption and an inevitable confrontation with authority - and possibly the best soundtrack ever!


    Hideo Gosha

    • Red Lion / Akage (1969) -"Gonzo (Toshiro Mifune), a member of the Imperial Restoration Force, is being asked by the emperor to deliver official news to his home village of a New World Order. Wanting to pose as a military officer, he dons the Red Lion Mane of Office. Upon his return, his attempt to tell the village about a brand-new tax cut is quashed when the townfolk mistakenly assumes that he is there to rescue them from corrupt government officials. He learns that an evil magistrate has been swindling them for years. Now, he has to help the village, ward off Shogunate fanatics, along with the fact that he can't read his own proclamations."

      Yuujii Makiguchi

      • Virgin Breaker Yuki (1976) - (trigger warnings for rape/torture). This film depicts prostitutes and anarchists in Kyoto just after the Peace Preservation Law was passed in 1925.

      Masaki Kobayashi

      • Harakiri - When his son-in-law is killed begging for charity, Tsugumo visits the lord responsible to commit suicide. But only after he's told his story.
      • Samurai Rebellion - A clan lord orders a marriage between his mistress and the son of one of his swordsmen. When the lord changes his mind, the couple would rather die than be apart and his men are on their way.

      Eiichi Kudō

      • Castle of Owls - The Toyotomi clan has declared peace. To stimulate business, a weapons merchant hires a ninja to assassinate its leader. But he begins to question whether his code is more important than his happiness.

      Akira Kurosawa

      • Ikiru (1952) - A bureaucrat struggles to find meaning in life when he discovers he has a terminal illness.

      Yasujiro Ozu

      • Late Spring (1949) and Early Summer (1951) - A very moving film of a young woman who gives up her independence to take care of her aging father.

      Masahiro Shinoda

      • Samurai Spy - With the new shogun, war has ended. But the clans still vie for power and spies wander amongst them in Shinoda's Cold War allegory.

      Hiroyuki Tanaka

      • Kanikosen - Film adaptation of Takiji Kobayashi's The Cannery Ship. Crab fishermen attempt to take control of the ship out at sea.


      Guillermo del Toro

      • Pan's Labyrinth (2006) - In the fascist Spain of 1944, the stepdaughter of a sadistic army officer in a remote outpost escapes into an intriguing fantasy world.


      Bent Hamer

      • O'Horten - As a train driver finishes his last day before retirement, he wonders what to do with the rest of his life.
      • Factotum - Faithful adaptation of Bukowski's novel, as well as some of his short stories.


      Hany Abu-Assad

      • Paradise Now (2005) - The film follows two Palestinian childhood friends who had been recruited to perform suicide bombings in Tel Aviv.


      Wojciech Has

      • Petla - An alcoholic tries to quit drinking over 24 hours.

      Alek Wasilewski

      • Lucky Day Forever - Prole 514 hopes to win the lottery, never having to work again. But when he does, is he any happier?


      Radu Mihaileanu

      • Live and Become (2005) - It's 1980 and the black Falashas in Ethiopia have been recognised as Jews and given the right to go to Israel. This film tells the story of one Christian boy who goes in the place of a Jewish woman's son who died, and faces racism in Israel.


      Yakov Protazanov

      • Aelita - Communists travel into space to help Martians with their revolution.


      Ousmane Sembène

      • Black Girl (1966) - About a a girl from Senegal hired by a wealthy French family to nanny but is then mistreated and effectively enslaved in their home, with tragic consequences.

      South African

      Neill Blomkamp

      • District 9 - Alluding to the District Six evictions in apartheid and the more recent Blikkiesdorp settlement, District 9 sees aliens come to Earth. But when they arrive, they are a minority group just like any other, and are hated by both black and white in South Africa.
      • Elysium (2013) - In 2154, the rich live on Elysium, an enormous luxurious space station, while the poor and working class scrape by on a dystopian Earth. One man, played by Matt Damon, goes on a mission for equality in this action blockbuster.

      Bronwen Hughes

      • Stander - The embellished story of Andre Stander, a cop who turned bank robber, set in and around the Soweto uprising.

      South Korean

      Lee Chang-dong

      • Peppermint Candy - As Yongho stands on a track waiting for a train, he has a series of flashbacks to explain what has driven him to suicide; heartbreak, compulsory military service, the police force and bankruptcy.

      Park Chan-wook

      • I'm a Cyborg, but That's Okay (2006) - Romantic comedy in which a female production line worker begins to believe she is a robot and is committed to a psychiatric institution.
      • Sympathy for Mr Vengeance (2002) - A deaf factory worker made redundant and his anarchist girlfriend kidnap his boss' daughter for a ransom.

      Park Kwang-su

      • A Single Spark - The story of Jeon Tae-il, a textile worker who self immolated in protest of poor conditions.

      Shin Dong-il

      • Bandhobi - A Bangladeshi worker trying to retrieve his stolen wages receives help from a schoolgirl.

      Yoo Young-sik

      • Anarchists (2000) - Action film set in 1924 Shanghai as a group of Korean anarchists embark on a campaign of propaganda by deed against the Japanese occupation of Korea.


      Vicente Aranda

      • Libertarias - The Mujeres Libres battle in the Spanish Revolution, with liberated sex workers and a nun in tow. Trigger warning, features a rape scene.
      • Riders of the Dawn (1990) - Marian dreams of owning the spa resort where she works. But her life, as well as everyone else's, is changed with the Asturian uprising of 1934 and later civil war.

      Fernando Arrabal

      • The Tree of Guernica - Irreverent take on the Spanish Civil War set in the Basque region of Guernica, where both communists and Francoists await the fighting.

      Fernando León de Aranoa

      • Mondays in the Sun - A group of shipworkers made redundant try to come to terms with the death of the shipping industry, a lack of jobs and financial troubles.

      Luis Bunuel

      • The Exterminating Angel (1962) - Macabre comedy in which bourgeois guests at a dinner party find themselves incapable of leaving the room, and descend into base savagery.

      Jose Luis Cuerda

      • Butterfly’s Tongue (1999) - It’s Spain 1936, a young boy grows to like his teacher and develop a thirst for learning – however war is coming and with it fear and betrayal.

      Álex de la Iglesia

      • 800 Bullets - Former stuntmen operate a theme park on the sets they filmed their spaghetti westerns on. When a real estate mogul buys up the land and threatens to send in the riot police, they decide to wait for them.

      Victor Erice

      • The Spirit of The Beehive (1973) - It’s rural Spain 1940 – seen mainly through the eyes of a seven year old girl – the adults behaviour is constricted with fear and memories of crushed dreams too painful to be voiced. The girl and her sister watch the 1931 classic movie ‘Frankenstein’ which ignites her imagination, and could lead her into danger.


      Per Åhlin

      • Journey to Melonia (1989) - Animated film about a beautiful paradise island, Melonia, which is under threat from the industry island Plutonia, which is governed by two greedy managers who keep small children as their slaves in the factories.

      Roy Andersson

      • Songs from the Second Floor (2000) - A look at different aspects of modern life and work through a series of disconnected vignettes.

      Pernilla August

      • Beyond (2010) - Drama dealing with the destiny which many of the Finnish guest workers who came to Sweden to work in textile factories, mills and forestry during the 1960's and 70's, centered on a young woman's experiences growing up in a home riddled with abuse and alcoholism.

      Peter Birro

      • Take up the Struggle (2008) - 4 episode miniseries chronicling the coming of age of 4 different youths growing up in the Swedish working class port town of Gothenburg.

      Lena Ewert and Lasse Westman

      • Comrades, our enemies are well-organized (1972) - The story of a wildcat strike in the iron ore fields in the far north of Sweden in December 1969.

      Lukas Moodysson

      • Together - Comedy set in 1970s Stockholm, in which a woman leaves her violent husband and moves, with her children, to the Tillsammans ('Together' in Swedish) commune where her brother lives.

      Göran Hugo Olsson

      • The Black Power Mixtape (2012) - An award winning compilation feature documentary that displays the story of the African-American community 1967-1975, the people, the society and the style that fueled a change. Told with sparkling, beautiful and deep footage, lost in the archives in Sweden for 30 years.

      Niels Arden Oplev

      • The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2009, aka Men Who Hate Women ) - Film series about a young hacker and a journalist battling corrupt officials, industrialists and anti-Semites.

      Gabriela Pichler

      • Eat Sleep Die (2012) - When the forceful young Muslim Swedish/Balkan "take-no-shit" factory worker Raša loses her job, she faces the system of unemployment. With no high school diploma, no job Raša finds herself on collision course with society and its contradictable values and expectations.

      Jan Troell

      • Everlasting Moments (2008) - Based on the true story of Maria Larsson, a Swedish working class woman in the early 20th century, who wins a camera in a lottery and goes on to become a photographer.

      Thomas Vinterberg

      • Dear Wendy - In a mining town, a group of misfits create a pacifist gun club. They make a rule never to draw their guns, but when the police become involved, they find it difficult to keep to their promise.

      Bo Widerberg

      • Ådalen '31 (1969) - During a strike strike-breakers are being transported to Sandviken, where they are assaulted by the strikers. The military are sent in. On the 14th May 1931 there is a confrontation between demonstrators and the military who open fire and five people are killed and five injured.
      • Joe Hill (1971) - Biopic on the life and death of the legendary Swedish/American agitator [URL=/tags/joe hill] Joe Hill[/URL].


      Pen-Ek Ratanaruang

      • Headshot - A disgraced cop joins a secret organisation targeting politicians and businessmen.


      Yilmaz Guney and Serik Goren

      • Yol (1982) - Following the 1980 military takeover Turkey is depicted as an open prison with soldiers regulating everyday life. From a closed prison five inmates are paroled for a week – the film follows their separate journeys home and shows how medieval customs and religion are equally enslaving.


      Bahrudin Čengić

      • Role of My Family in World Revolution (1971) - After World War II, a group of partisans go to stay with a wealthy family. The family soon begins to forget their old ways.

      Želimir Žilnik

      • Early Works (1969) - Inspired by Marx's Capital, three men and a woman decide to try to wake socialist conscience within the working class and peasantry, without much success.


Chilli Sauce
Jan 6 2017 11:24

Saw High Rise quite recently. Really enjoyed it. Tells the story of dystopian class struggle in brutalist housing block in (pre-)Thatcherite England. Think Delicatessen meets Brazil.

Jan 7 2017 00:35
Chilli Sauce wrote:
Saw High Rise quite recently. Really enjoyed it. Tells the story of dystopian class struggle in brutalist housing block in (pre-)Thatcherite England. Think Delicatessen meets Brazil.

yeah, I really loved that film. Absolutely beautiful, and great use of music: the covers of Abba were amazing. I also love brutalist architecture, and live in a brutalist tower block so enjoyed it on that level as well.

Enjoyed the book as well, although wouldn't count either as "working class literature" as such. I thought the end of the film with the news story about Thatcher was pretty clunky and unnecessary, and isn't from the book at all.

Chilli Sauce
Feb 21 2017 13:02

Saw the Milagro Beanfield War recently.

It's not amazing - it has some really cardboard characters and I've heard the book is better - but it definitely has some class content. It centers on a mostly Latino town in the Southwest where a planned luxury development brings to the surface long-held resentment over water rights that have long-favored capital over the town's poor residents.