The Making of Native Land Leo Hurwitz’s Native Land is a 1942 expose of repressive forces against labor organizing. The film is based on the La Follette Civil Liberties Committee’s (1936-1941) 65 volumes of testimony to the Senate on their investigation. The investigation’s results couldn’t be more troubling. The Committee found that both Pinkerton and William J. Burns Detective Agencies sent spies to infiltrate labor unions and to report on members considered adversaries to the interests of business owners and corporations. What happened to those union members, who were only exercising their civil rights, is the subject of this film. Leo told...

Memories and fantasies originating in childhood influence the course of a life as it unfolds. So do childhood experiences. If someone has a strong creative spirit, as Leo Hurwitz did, these impressionable early times find powerful forms of expression in their creative work. This is certainly true for Leo. Leo’s films speak for those abandoned by the societies they live in and for those who have no voice. We already know Leo’s family of origin had a strong social conscience. Yet, what are some of the personal, early, even unconscious sources leading to Leo’s passion? Thanks to direct quotes from family...

Leo Hurwitz (1909-1991) is responsible for developing the social documentary form in the early 1930’s with a small group of other documentary filmmakers. This creative work initially came out of his involvement with the Workers Film and Photo League in New York City. As a socially conscious documentary filmmaker, devoted to human rights and exposing the fascist forces that undermine basic human freedoms, Leo’s early films (Heart of Spain, Native Land, and Strange Victory) particularly addressed these concerns. The House Un-American Activities Committee blacklisted Leo during the McCarthy era for his affiliation with the Communist party and, although his filmmaking...