Bus Riders Union
Haskell Wexler has been one of Hollywood's premier cinematographers (Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Bound for Glory) but also a radical film director, whose independent feature, Medium Cool (1969), shot with his actors thrust among Mayor Daley's rioting Chicago police, remains an essential document of the political 1960s. Wexler has never cooled; and he's back now with a rousing agit-prop Bus Riders Union (1999), which he directed and photographed on video.
It traces the heroic four-year struggle in LA to make the Metropolitan Transit Authority take notice of the eroding rights of the city's "public-transportation-dependent," the 91% of that populace - overwhelmingly poor and minority - who ride the busses.
Or try to ride the busses. If they don't break down. If they ever come. If they aren't third-world overcrowded. The Bus Riders Union, multi-cultural organizers, have been leafletting LA busses and marching on MTA meetings with their demands. Lower fares. Busses running into the nights. "No seats, no fares." Most important: forcing the city to stop squeezing the bus system dry by transferring the bulk of money to the spiffy new rail system for suburban commuters, who are overwhelmingly white and wealthy.
Wexler arrives January 19 at the HFA with members of the Bus Riders Union. Watch out, Boston's MTA!