We know D.C. Get our free newsletter to stay in the know.


When you spend 40-plus hours a week chained to a chair in a fluorescent-lit cubicle, it’s easy to forget that the plight of the lowly office drone pales in comparison with that of the blue-collar workingman. Slave away for a week assembling plastic beads at a Chinese factory for next-to-nothing an hour—without health insurance or paid holidays, mind you—as do the subjects of David Redmon’s documentary, Mardi Gras: Made in China (at 8 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 15), however, and you’ll probably think twice before complaining about that cup of free office coffee you’re forced to start your day with at the ungodly hour of 10 a.m. For those whose decadeslong exposure to the daily grind has destroyed any compassion for the social and economic struggles of anyone outside of their own immediate household, the American Film Institute’s 2005 D.C. Labor Filmfest has plenty of other delightful flicks to probe your middle-class guilt. Chief among them are two Academy Award–winning documentaries by filmmaker Barbara Kopple: Harlan County, USA (pictured; at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 16, and at 8:45 p.m. Monday, Sept. 19), about a coal miner’s strike in Kentucky, and American Dream (at 1 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 17), which follows a later strike at a Hormel meat-packing plant in Minnesota. Wake up the tired, huddled masses, because there’s no sleep for the working class. The series runs from Thursday, Sept. 15, through Wednesday, Sept. 21 (see Showtimes for a weekly schedule), at the AFI’s Silver Theatre and Cultural Center, 8633 Colesville Road, Silver Spring. $8.50. (301) 495-6700. (Matthew Borlik)