The National Hunger March to Washington 1932
Hurwitz’s first serious work in film was with the Workers Film and Photo League. The WFPL was begun in New York in 1930, in the depths of the Depression, by a dedicated group of leftist and left-liberal photographers, filmmakers, and critics. Hurwitz joined in its early stages, around 1931. Branches opened in other cities as the Depression lengthened, and League members undertook to photograph the breadlines and Hoovervilles, hunger and unemployment marches, restless protests and labor disputes. In short, their intent was to bear witness to the effects of economic and social (perhaps political) collapse and lend support for a progressive working-class movement in the U.S.
Their films were shown directly to workers’ groups, in union halls or strike headquarters or even outdoors at night. Without decent newsreels (and obviously without television or the internet), workers often knew little of similar struggles occurring around the country or abroad, nor of the widespread results of economic crisis and class conflicts. In addition to making mostly short topical films, the WFPL showed new documentaries from all over the world, instituted continuous discussions, both formal and informal about the art and craft of film making, and held classes about the budding art of the documentary film. The Film and Photo League films became solidifying agents in political education, aiming to inform, to build morale, and to agitate.
New York Film and Photo League
Production: New York Film and Photo League
Camera: Leo Hurwitz, Sam Brody, Robert Del Duca, C.O. Nelson, Leo Seltzer
Editing: Leo Hurwitz, Robert Del Duca, Leo Seltzer, Norman Warren