As this year’s historic strikes by the Writers Guild of America and the Screen Actors Guild–American Federation of Television and Radio Artists have shaken up the entertainment industry and film festivals, they’ve brought to the forefront a truth sometimes elided by cinema’s glamorous facade: that movies are made by workers. In a business increasingly dominated by massive corporations, what is the role—and value—of the labor of acting, writing, and other craftswork?

This NYFF61 panel—moderated by Film Comment editor Devika Girish and FC contributor Madeline Whittle—brought together Lisa Takeuchi Cullen (President, WGA East), Rebecca Damon (SAG-AFTRA Executive Director, New York Local), and Alissa Wilkinson (Senior Correspondent, Vox) for a deep-dive into the circumstances that led to the strikes, the needs of actors and writers working in Hollywood today, and the history and contemporary role of labor organizing in the American film industry.

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