The Waterside Workers Federation Film Unit

In the 1950s the Waterside Workers union established its own film unit, which made several films on waterfront working conditions and historical events. The unit was comprised of just three very talented individuals, Keith Gow, Jerome 'Jock' Levy, and Norma Disher. They made 17 films between 1953-1959, most of them for trade unions and financed by the trade union movement. This small band of film-makers stood out for the productivity and the sustained excellence of their work.

Their best known work The Hungry Miles (1955) has become a documentary classic. Scenes from this film depicting living conditions during the Depression have often been used in later works, especially television documentaries. The entire film can be viewed on the screen below.

Stylistically, the film-makers followed the documentary style of Grierson, the newsreel format, and the realism of Soviet and European film-makers such as Sergei Eisenstein. The WWFFU’s efforts built on the Sydney waterside workers’ first experience of political filmmaking during the production of Joris Ivens’ Indonesia Calling in 1946.