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A Crime to Fit the Punishment

USA, 1982 (MIFF 1984)

Director: Stephen Mack, Barbara Moss

In 1954 a talented group of Hollywood blacklistees, among them director Herbert Biberman of the Hollywood Ten, Oscar-winning script-writer Michael Wilson and composer Sol Kaplan, made a feature drama called "Salt of the Earth" about a strike by Mexican-American miners in New Mexico. A co-operative effort with a tiny budget, the film dramatised twin aspects of the strike—the male workers' fight for wage equality and (considerably ahead of its time) their wives' struggle for equal status.

Shunned in the U.S. for many years, but honoured elsewhere, "Salt of the Earth" later became something of a cult classic. In 1982, Stephen Mack and Barbara Moss directed this 43-minute documentary telling the story of the political outcasts who struck back at McCarthyism by committing what, in their accusers' eyes, was "a crime to fit the punishment".

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