Wednesday, September 09, 2015

Celebrating Together at "Jimmy's Hall."

Having just walked a sweltering mile and a half to the Loft Cinema, I was keenly aware of the riders’ plight due to the long Tucson bus strike. I thought about those who had lost their jobs because they couldn’t get to work on time and the angry young woman I met waiting an hour at the bus stop (before giving up and walking.)  She was mad at the drivers for striking when they made “a hell of a lot more” than she made. “They should all be fired!” she raged. This woman was working two full-time jobs to support herself and her child.  I pointed out how the media was making out poor single mothers as lazy. “I work damn hard,” she spat back.  I challenged her, “Don’t you think you deserve enough money to live on with one job?  If workers don’t demand it, their bosses won’t pay a living wage. The only reason there are safe working conditions in this country is because the workers organized and demanded it.”

My fiance and I settled into our seats at the air-conditioned theater ready to be drawn into the lush emerald isle and the spirited Irish and jazz dances in “Jimmy’s Hall.” We were taken back to depression era Ireland when it was recovering from the vicious civil war between those who supported England’s occupation and those who fought for independence. Jimmy’s Hall was essentially a community center where people gathered to take cultural classes, attend dances, and celebrate life. But it was seen as a danger for the common people to gather together to exchange ideas – ideas that might lead to revolt. So the hall had been shut down and Jimmy exiled to America.

Ten years later, Jimmy is greeted on his return by a group of young-adults intent on re-opening the hall for a safe place to dance. The small community rebuilds the tin hall into a joyous gathering place. But the church sees the hall as a challenge to the powers that be – the wealthy land owners who had profited from the war – and pressures them to close it down. When a family is thrown out of their ancestral home by the greedy land owner, the persecuted group stands with the family.

 It’s not hard to see the parallel between the greedy landowners and the unfettered greed of corporate America and international banking conglomerates. In the film, the church uses fear to control the people. Today it is the corporate-owned media that portrays hard working single mothers - like my fellow passenger - as lazy while influencing them to vote against their own best interests.

For me the Loft feels like Jimmy’s Hall: a joyful community gathering place where learning and lively discussions are encouraged. Independent films are still the voice of the people. It occurs to me that the single mother at the bus stop wouldn’t have the time or money to enjoy this film at the Loft. (Though she could send her kids to the Loft's free children’s screenings…) But movies like “Jimmy’s Hall” create understanding that we are all a part of this community and inspires us to stand together. 

Movie blessings,
Jana Segal