“Which side are you on? Which side are you on?” So inquires the famous worker’s rights song that echoes through actor/director James Franco’s powerful and passionate adaptation of John Steinbeck’s Depression-era novel about fruit pickers organizing for a strike. In a bid to create economic equality in a fertile California valley, a neophyte party member joins forces with a professional labor agitator. After they infiltrate a group of apple pickers (led by Vincent d’Onofrio, in a fabulous supporting role) and encourage a strike for better wages, the retribution from the landowners is swift and brutal. But does fighting for justice justify ethically murky measures? In Dubious Battle offers no easy answers, but between the stunning cinematography and excellent support from Robert Duvall, Ed Harris, and Selena Gomez, the film joins John Ford’s The Grapes of Wrath and John Sayles’ Matewan in evoking the strength of the human spirit in the face of exploitation.
Guest in attendance 10/9: James Franco (director, actor)
There will be a ticketed reception preceding the 10/9 screening of the film at Zener Schon Gallery (Mill Valley Filmmaker Lounge) with director James Franco in attendance.