Salt of the Earth (film)

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Date: 1950s

Region: North America

Subject: Political/Economic/Social Opinion

Medium: Film Video


Biberman.jpg

Artist: Herbert Biberman (1900 - 1971)

Confronting Bodies: Members of the U.S. Congress, union leaders, the American Legion

Dates of Action: 1950s

Location: The United States of America

Description of Artwork: Salt of the Earth tells the story of the Empire Zinc strike of 1950-52, conducted by the Local 890, the International Union of Mine, Mill and Smelter Workers.

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The Incident: Biberman, a blacklisted director, joined other blacklisted film makers to form the Independent Productions Corporation (IPC) to produce Salt of the Earth. Before production began, Biberman was denied a union film crew by the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees. The lead actress, a Mexican citizen named Rosaura Revuelta, was deported to Mexico by the Immigration and Naturalization Service. California Republican congressman, Donald L. Jackson, vowed to prevent the film from showing in American theaters. When the film was ready for release, very few theaters accepted it. Some distributing companies threatened theaters who showed the film. The American Legion and United Autoworkers hindered the promotion of the film across the United States.

Results of Incident: IPC lost $250,000 on the film. Salt of the Earth won the grand prize conferred by the Academie du Cinema de Paris in France; however, it was boycotted throughout the United States.

Source: Censorship, A World Encyclopedia, ed. D. Jones