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Award-winning film about immigration, fast food, and making your own justice. Bring it to a theater near you!
Award-winning film about immigration, fast food, and making your own justice. Bring it to a theater near you!
520 backers pledged $36,020 to help bring this project to life.
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Bring The Hand That Feeds to Your Community

$36,020

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WE DID IT! With your help we're taking The Hand That Feeds to theaters and communities across the US! In addition to exceeding the Kickstarter goal this campaign resulted in tax-deductible donations and matching funds of $14,500 outside of Kickstarter. This means the theatrical release will be even bigger and better than we'd originally planned! Please don't forget to follow us on Facebook and Twitter for news about the film and related issues. And if you'd like to contribute to our audience engagement campaign after the Kickstarter deadline closes, just follow this link. THANK YOU!

We are raising funds to bring our feature documentary The Hand That Feeds to theaters and communities around the US and we need your help to do it! This Kickstarter campaign is about getting the film out there in two ways simultaneously: 1) it’s a massive push to book screenings with organizations and educational institutions, which will bring the film, usually for free, to audiences of workers, students and communities; and 2) all the funds raised will be used to put the film in theaters, where it will reach even wider audiences.

There are several reasons why we want to do this. First of all, this film truly comes alive with an audience in front of a big screen. Although it’s an indie documentary about a scrappy crew of workers and activists, viewers have commented that it feels like a “blockbuster fiction film” in pacing and structure.

Second, the story is more timely than ever. You can’t turn on the news without hearing something about immigration, economic inequality, low-wage work (including fast food), or rising social unrest. But how often do you see a feature documentary that explores these complex themes through a dramatic personal story? Stories about labor, in particular, are few and far between, and victories are rare in social movements. (Spoiler alert—the stars of The Hand That Feeds actually win!) We feel that it’s important to bring these sort of powerful, inspiring stories to wide audiences.

And finally, people want to see it. We get requests every day from people around the country who want to see the film or bring it to their city or town.

So, please watch our video and read below to learn more about what we’re doing and how you can help. Book your screening, reserve your DVD, Bluray, digital download or poster, and take a look at the other rewards for backers who join us!

WHAT IS THE HAND THAT FEEDS ABOUT?

The Hand That Feeds tells a dramatic story of ordinary people taking huge risks to become heroes. At a popular bakery café, residents of New York’s Upper East Side get bagels and coffee served with a smile 24 hours a day. But behind the scenes, undocumented immigrant workers face sub-legal wages, dangerous machinery, and abusive managers who will fire them for calling in sick. Mild-mannered sandwich maker Mahoma López has never been interested in politics, but in January 2012, he convinces a small group of his co-workers to fight back.

Risking deportation and the loss of their livelihood, the workers team up with a diverse crew of innovative young organizers and take the unusual step of forming their own independent union, launching themselves on a journey that will test the limits of their resolve. In one roller-coaster year, they must overcome a shocking betrayal and a two-month lockout. Lawyers will battle in back rooms, Occupy Wall Street protesters will take over the restaurant, and a picket line will divide the neighborhood. If they can win a contract, it will set a historic precedent for low-wage workers across the country. But whatever happens, Mahoma and his coworkers won’t be exploited again.

We met the stars of this film in early 2012 through connections with Occupy Wall Street, having spent the previous autumn documenting the movement. Throughout the process of making this film, we’ve been continually inspired by the courage and perseverance of the protagonists, and we hope you will be too.

photo credit: Eleazar Castillo
photo credit: Eleazar Castillo

WHAT HAS HAPPENED WITH THE FILM SO FAR?

We started filming in early 2012, and shot most of the film before any major funding came in, working around freelance schedules to catch as much vérité action as possible. In 2013, we were able to get funding from the Sundance Institute, Latino Public Broadcasting, Chicken and Egg Pictures, NYSCA, and the Cinereach Project at Sundance Institute. We expanded our team with executive producer Alex Rivera, co-producer Patricia Benabe and editor David Meneses. We worked crazy hours, bent over backwards and made a lot of personal sacrifices to finish the film quickly and maximize its timeliness. All told, we've been devoting ourselves to this project for about three years.

photo by Patricia Benabe
photo by Patricia Benabe

We're thrilled with the response The Hand that Feeds has been getting from audiences and press since launching our festival run in Spring 2014. We've picked up prizes at festivals from Alabama to Scotland, including the Audience Awards at top doc fests Full Frame and DOC NYC and Best of Fest at AFI Docs. We’ve played in the halls of government and to sold out crowds of hundreds, made large, burly men cry (along with all sorts of other people), and gotten standing ovations that can only be described as raucous and emotional.

photo by Ursula Liang
photo by Ursula Liang

Here are a few of the things reviewers have been saying:

"A crowd-pleaser... a well-plotted and captivating David and Goliath story." Anthony Kaufman, Indiewire

"Infused with welcome doses of humor… as rousing as it is seemingly implausible." Frank Scheck, The Hollywood Reporter

“An inspiring story.” Ann Hornaday, The Washington Post

"If there's one documentary you want to put on your watchlist, it is this one." Rose Arrieta, El Tecolote

“You will never look at your deli server the same way again.”  Patricia Aufderheide, Center for Media and Social Impact

In addition, with the support of the Bertha BRITDOC Connect Fund, we’ve already created a unique online platform to help audiences get involved after they see the film: Changing The Food Chain. It’s an interactive map of organizations across the country that support workers in the food chain, made with Food Chain Workers Alliance, one of several national engagement partners that we're working with.

In the next few months, The Hand That Feeds will continue to screen at festivals across North America. But to get it to the next level, we're going to need to build a movement, and this is where you come in.

WHAT'S THE PLAN NOW? WHY DIY?

We’re creating a people-powered distribution campaign to take The Hand That Feeds to theaters and communities across the country. Today’s film distribution space is very crowded. We quickly realized if we wanted this story to get the attention it needs we would have to release it ourselves. Many big commercial distributors don't think there's an audience for a documentary about undocumented immigrant workers standing up to their employers. With your help, we will prove them completely wrong!

photo by Jed Brandt
photo by Jed Brandt

Releasing a film theatrically is expensive, but we can keep costs low and engagement high by building up our grassroots support and employing a hybrid theatrical distribution model that combines some traditional bookings in art-house theaters with a grassroots screening tour (often free to the public) in community centers, churches and campuses around the country.

We want to have a massive screening campaign for May Day and beyond, so we’re inviting community organizations, unions, universities and other institutions and groups to book their screenings through this Kickstarter.  If you represent one of these groups, you get to do a screening as a unique tool for organizing and education, and in the process help the story reach wider audiences and bring new people to the movement through the theatrical release. Plus the individual who does the pledge gets a home use copy to keep. (And in the event that the kickstarter doesn't go through, we will book the screenings anyway; we'll just need to do the billing another way.)

Of course, you don’t have to represent a group to support this campaign, and there are rewards for individuals as well.

The Film Collaborative (theatrical booking) and the 2050 Group (publicity) have a history of success in hybrid theatrical distribution, and they're already part of our team. But we need to raise this funding to book theaters, print posters, publicize, advertise, and create exhibition copies. All of this will allow us to reach audiences that aren’t already connected to organizations, and to maximize the film’s impact as part of the national conversation about wages, immigration, and low-wage workers rights.

$35,000 is the minimum amount we need to raise to make this release happen. If we manage to raise more than that, we’ll be able to make an even bigger splash and bring the film to even more locations.

All the money raised will go directly to the North American release of the film, ideally bringing it right to your town—we’ll keep track of where our pledges come from, and this will be one way we decide where to organize screenings. But this Kickstarter campaign will also take the film to the world through rewards, including DVDs, BluRays and Digital downloads of the film, which will be accessible to backers outside North America as well.

Kickstarter is an all-or-nothing platform, so if we don’t raise our full goal within 30 days, none of the pledges will be charged and we’ll end up with nothing—and we’ll have to cancel the theatrical release. So please give what you can—and then help us spread the word!

official theatrical poster (design by Partner & Partners)
official theatrical poster (design by Partner & Partners)

 KICKSTARTER VIDEO CREDITS:  Camera by Rachel Lears; Editing by Robin Blotnick; Music by Ryan Blotnick; Cover/ thumbnail photo by Eleazar Castillo; Time-lapse photography by David Borenstein; Photos by Patricia Benabe, Ursula Liang, and Simon Luethi

Risks and challenges

Production and post-production of The Hand That Feeds is done. The film has gotten great reviews and awards from both audiences and festival juries. We’re confident that we can bring this film to theaters and communities across the country with your support. That said, since the theaters have final say in what they program, it’s very possible that we won't make it to your local movie house. But in that case, you can always team up with others in your area to host your own community screening. Plus, even if this campaign does not succeed, all the community, union and educational screenings that we book through this Kickstarter will still be booked, we'll just need to arrange with the organizers to do billing another way.

It's also possible that there may be delays in our target timeframe for the theatrical release, or that rewards fulfillment could be delayed due to contractual obligations with our broadcaster, PBS. But we've had a successful Kickstarter in the past with all the rewards delivered. And we’ve been working passionately on this project for three years and we’re determined to release it as widely as possible this year.

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  1. Select this reward

    Pledge US$ 1 or more About US$ 1

    EL PUEBLO UNIDO
    You’re part of the movement! We’ll send you updates on the film’s progress and our heartfelt thanks.

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    RANK & FILE
    A thank you by name on our website, and our sincere gratitude!

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    *NEW REWARD* FOODIE SPECIAL
    As a thank you for joining our team, you'll get recipes for Mahoma's special hot sauce, and Elizabeth's amazing Caribbean spare ribs. Riquísimo—Pure deliciousness!

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    Pledge US$ 25 or more About US$ 25

    COMPAÑERO/A
    Home use download of The Hand That Feeds (bilingual English & Spanish subtitles included). Searching for the perfect home entertainment that makes you think and leaves you feeling good at the end? With this reward you have your very own HD digital copy of the film to keep, plus a thank you on the website and in our hearts.

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    Pledge US$ 35 or more About US$ 35

    MARCHING BAND
    All of the above + digital download of our unique original score (featured in the trailer and Kickstarter video) by award-winning composer Ryan Blotnick. Music plays an essential role galvanizing emotions in social movements, and in film!

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    TROUBLEMAKER
    All of the above + exclusive access to deleted scenes. They say you have to kill your darlings to finish a film. See all our favorite moments that ended up on the (digital) cutting room floor...

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    JOB DEFENDER
    Limited edition, bilingual home use DVD signed by directors. For collectors, self-styled archivists, and others who like the way their good taste looks on a shelf! Plus all of the above.

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    $100
    SOLIDARITY COMMITTEE
    IMDB thank you + all of the above. We'll give you a shout-out on our IMDB page, plus a limited edition signed DVD, and all the fun digital stuff.

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    Pledge US$ 100 or more About US$ 100

    ORGANIZER
    One community screening license. Host your own public screening of The Hand That Feeds as part of our grassroots screening tour (must be a grassroots group and not a major institution). We'll even provide a discussion guide and flyer templates. A unique way to promote community dialogue, education, and solidarity! You can even make the event a fundraiser for your organization or campaign. See FAQ for details. Plus all $50 rewards.

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    Pledge US$ 100 or more About US$ 100

    *NEW REWARD* HIGH ROAD RESTAURANT SCREENING
    Screen the film at a restaurant, bar or other culinary establishment for our grassroots community rate. A unique way to show that your restaurant takes the “high road” and treats workers well, and to generate dialogue and interest with a special event. PLUS you’ll get recipes for Mahoma’s special hot sauce and Elizabeth’s Caribbean spare ribs (feature on the menu or keep for yourself) PLUS all $50 rewards (home use download + digital extras).

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    $125
    AGITATOR
    Limited edition, bilingual home use Bluray (5.1 surround sound included) signed by directors + IMDB thank you + all digital rewards. For the true connoisseur of justice, and home cinema!

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    ETHICAL CONSUMER
    A union-made, fair trade certified organic cotton APRON silkscreened in Brooklyn with a design based on the film poster. You are THE HAND THAT FEEDS. It’s meta, it’s ethical, it’s artisanal! PLUS you get all $50 rewards (home use download + digital extras) PLUS IMDB credit, PLUS a DVD of Robin’s award-winning 30 minute short Chocolate Country, about cacao farmers in the Dominican Republic who form a successful cooperative.

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    Pledge US$ 135 or more About US$ 135

    *NEW REWARD* FOOD JUSTICE EXPERT
    Along with your signed DVD of The Hand That Feeds, you’ll receive a signed hardcover copy of bestselling author Anna Lappé’s “Diet for a Hot Planet: The Climate Crisis at the End of Your Fork and What You Can Do About It”. You’ll be an expert on what’s wrong with our food system, and what we can do to build a better one that is ethical and sustainable for consumers and food workers alike! Plus the hot sauce and spare ribs recipes, IMDB credit, and all digital rewards.

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    Pledge US$ 175 or more About US$ 175

    *NEW REWARD* FOOD JUSTICE WARRIOR
    Host a High Road Restaurant Screening of The Hand That Feeds to show your establishment’s commitment to an ethical food system, PLUS you’ll get the hot sauce and spare ribs recipes, PLUS a signed DVD + digital rewards PLUS a DVD of Robin’s award-winning 30 minute short Chocolate Country, about cacao farmers in the Dominican Republic who form a successful cooperative—with public performance rights so you can screen that too!

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    Pledge US$ 250 or more About US$ 250

    LEAD ORGANIZER
    One community screening license with filmmaker skype Q&A. Following your public screening of the film as part of the grassroots screening tour, we will join you via Skype anywhere in the world to discuss the themes of the film or any aspect of the filmmaking process. Includes discussion guide and flyer templates, and you can make it a fundraiser. See FAQ for details. Plus all $100 rewards- includes home use DVD.

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    Pledge US$ 250 or more About US$ 250

    SHOP STEWARD
    A full size 27 x 40” print of our beautiful and striking movie poster, designed by Partner & Partners, plus all $100 rewards (DVD option).

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    Pledge US$ 250 or more About US$ 250

    *NEW REWARD* PUBLIC SCREENING FOR UNIONS/ NGOs
    One public screening license for unions or larger NGOs. Host your own public screening of The Hand That Feeds as part of our screening tour! (must be a union local not a national/ international.) We'll even provide a discussion guide and flyer templates. A unique way to promote community dialogue, education, and solidarity! You can even make the event a fundraiser for your group or campaign. See FAQ for details. Plus all $50 rewards.

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    Pledge US$ 250 or more About US$ 250

    *NEW REWARD* FOOD JUSTICE WARRIOR DELUXE $250
    You’re changing the food chain from the inside and it shows! Host screenings of The Hand That Feeds and Chocolate Country (Robin’s award-winning 30 minute short about cacao farmers in the Dominican Republic who form a successful cooperative) while sporting your union-made, fair trade certified organic cotton APRON silkscreened in Brooklyn with a design based on the poster of The Hand That Feeds. PLUS choice of signed DVD or Bluray, plus IMDB credit and all digital rewards, plus the delicious hot sauce and spare ribs recipes!

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    Pledge US$ 275 or more About US$ 275

    $275
    UNION REP
    A full size 27 x 40” print of our beautiful and striking movie poster, designed by Partner & Partners, plus all $125 rewards (Bluray option). See FAQ for delivery details.

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    Pledge US$ 295 or more About US$ 295

    *NEW REWARD* INSTITUTIONAL DVD FOR UNIONS
    One institutional DVD that your union can KEEP and use in perpetuity for in-house screenings with your membership. A unique tool for inspiration and training!. Plus all $100/125 rewards (including home use DVD or Bluray for the person who coordinates this). *Please note that this does not include screenings open to the public*

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    Pledge US$ 350 or more About US$ 350

    *NEW REWARD* CAMPUS SCREENING
    Educational/ institutional single screening license. Host your own public screening of the film with a college, university, or other major institution. We will provide a discussion guide and flyer template. We can’t wait to help you educate and inspire with this film! Includes home use Bluray or DVD, IMDB thank you, and digital rewards. See FAQ for delivery details.

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    Pledge US$ 400 or more About US$ 400

    *NEW REWARD* PUBLIC SCREENING FOR UNIONS/ NGOs + FILMMAKER SKYPE Q&A
    One public screening license for unions or larger NGOs plus skype q&a with filmmakers. Host your own public screening of The Hand That Feeds as part of our screening tour and we'll join you via skype for a post-screening discussion! (Must be a union local a national/international.) We'll even provide a discussion guide and flyer templates. A unique way to promote community dialogue, education, and solidarity! You can even make the event a fundraiser for your group or campaign. See FAQ for details. Plus all $100/125 rewards.

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    Pledge US$ 500 or more About US$ 500

    VISIONARY
    A private leadership/ organizer training session with Mahoma, star of The Hand That Feeds. Spend up to 4 hours via Skype discussing any aspects of his strategy or experience in this campaign and others. This can be a conversation with you personally or with a group that you assemble. In the NYC area, it can even be in person (travel expenses not included). Guaranteed to be thought-provoking and inspiring! Plus all $100/$125 rewards (choice of Bluray or DVD). See FAQ for delivery details.

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    COMMUNICATIONS STRATEGIST
    A personalized documentary workshop with Rachel & Robin (via Skype or in person in the NYC area). We’ll spend four hours going over the nuts and bolts of any aspect of filmmaking that interests you: from choosing a topic and casting, to shooting and editing a powerful story, to getting it finished and out there through grantwriting, distribution and audience engagement. Ideally you’ll bring a project in progress or an idea, and we’ll help you take it to the next level! Plus all $100/$125 rewards. See FAQ for delivery details.

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    Pledge US$ 500 or more About US$ 500

    *NEW REWARD* PUBLIC SCREENING + INSTITUTIONAL DVD FOR UNIONS
    Host a public screening to draw community support to your campaign, and KEEP the institutional DVD to use in perpetuity for in-house screenings with your membership. A unique tool for inspiration, training, community dialogue, and movement building! Plus all $100/125 rewards (including home use DVD or Bluray for the person who coordinates this).

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    Pledge US$ 600 or more About US$ 600

    INTELLIGENTSIA: CAMPUS SCREENING + SKYPE Q&A
    Educational/ institutional single screening license + filmmaker Q&A via skype. Host your own public screening of the film with a college, university, major union, or other institution. We will provide a discussion guide and flyer template, and join you via skype for a post-screening Q&A to discuss the film's issues or process. We can’t wait to help you educate and inspire with this film! Includes signed poster, Bluray or DVD, IMDB thank you, and digital rewards. See FAQ for delivery details.

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    Pledge US$ 2,500 or more About US$ 2,500

    MOVEMENT LEADER
    Host a special screening at your house with filmmakers in attendance. We’ll be thrilled to discuss the film, the issues, and anything else that interests you! Includes signed poster, Bluray or DVD, IMDB thank you, digital rewards, and enormous gratitude. Limited to the Northeast corridor (Washington, DC to Boston) or 3 hours drive from NYC; beyond this we may need to ask you for additional help with travel and accommodation. See FAQ for delivery details.

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    COMANDANTE
    Host a public screening at your university with the filmmakers in attendance. We’ll be delighted to do a post-screening Q&A with your campus community, and/or a master class! Includes signed poster, Bluray or DVD, IMDB thank you, digital rewards and enormous gratitude. Limited to the Northeast corridor (Washington, DC to Boston) or 3 hours drive from NYC; beyond this we may need to ask you and your institution for additional help with travel and accommodation. See FAQ for delivery details.

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  29. Select this reward

    Pledge US$ 5,000 or more About US$ 5,000

    ASSOCIATE PRODUCER
    Wow, you are amazing! We’ll give you an associate producer credit on the theatrical and home use version of the film and the website and IMDB, plus a signed poster, a signed Bluray or DVD, digital rewards, and our deepest gratitude. See FAQ for delivery details.

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  30. Select this reward

    Pledge US$ 10,000 About US$ 10,000

    CO-PRODUCER
    You are the best—we can’t believe you’re for real! You’ll get a co-producer credit on the theatrical and home use version of the film and the website and IMDB, plus a signed poster, a signed Bluray or DVD, digital rewards, and unmeasurable gratitude. You’ll be our hero! See FAQ for delivery details.

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  31. Reward no longer available

    Pledge US$ 1,000 or more About US$ 1,000

    FELLOW TRAVELLER
    Two tickets to our NY or LA theatrical premiere, and dinner with the filmmakers afterward. We are so excited to hang out with you! In NY, you’ll also get to meet Mahoma and other film subjects. Includes signed poster, signed Bluray or DVD, IMDB thank you, and digital rewards. (Please note, travel and accommodation not included.) See FAQ for delivery details.

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    Reward no longer available 3 backers
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Funding period

- (28 days)