The Provincial Archives of Alberta (PAA) is proud to host the 31st entry in its popular Film Night series, Meat on the Move: The Edmonton Meat-Packing Industy on Film, on Saturday, April 30 at the Metro Cinema at the Garneau Theatre.
This year’s event consists of a double feature: the first program showcases industrial, educational, and advertising short films created by meat-packing companies with former operations in Edmonton and the second program features American Dream, the 1990 Academy Award-winning documentary directed by Barbara Kopple about a 1985-1986 strike by meat-packing workers at a Hormel plant in Minnesota.
The films from the first program are all derived from the Provincial Archives’ collection. The PAA acquired these films in the late 1990s after the reels were discovered by the building manager in the boiler room of a former Maple Leafs Meats plant slated for demolition. Although the films were in poor condition at the time of donation, they were at least rescued from certain destruction and preserved in the climate-controlled vaults of the PAA.
The films included in the program range in date from 1945 to 1975 and most of them were produced by Swift’s Premium. The films focus on industrial safety, sales training, education, and advertising. Beyond their intended purpose, each film also offers a unique glimpse into the attitudes and social conditions of the era in which they were made. This is the evidential value of archival films and the reason why these kinds of films – industrial and educational films that are often forgotten – are just as worthy of preservation as Hollywood classics.
The PAA is also pleased to host a follow-up event on Wednesday, May 4 organized by the Alberta Labour History Institute. The event, The Summer of ’86: Strikes and Solidarity, will consist of a panel discussion focusing on the 1986 strikes at the Gainer’s plant in Edmonton and the Fletcher’s Fine Foods plant in Red Deer and the wider context of labour strife across the province that year. Speaking will be Winston Gereluk, vice-president of the Alberta Labour History Institute, Alvin Finkel, professor emeritus at Athabasca University, John Ventura, president of UFCW Local 280-P at the time of the Gainer’s strike, and Don Bouzek, Canadian Association of Labour Media award-winning producer.
Meat on the Move: The Edmonton Meat-Packing Industry on Film & American Dream
Saturday, April 30, 2016
Metro Cinema at the Garneau
The Summer of ’86: Strikes and Solidarity
Wednesday, May 4, 2016
Provincial Archives of Alberta
8555 Roper Road (corner of 86th Street and 51st Avenue), Edmonton