MOVIES | “The Red Tail” depicts the NWA strike of 2005 and its ongoing repercussions

Last year, local filmmakers Dawn Mikkelson and Melissa Koch took their documentary The Red Tail, on the aftermath of the 444-day Northwest Airlines strike in 2005, across the world. They hosted successful screenings at several international film festivals, including a sold-out Minneapolis premiere. The Red Tail debuted in the Twin Cities last year at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Film Festival and is back for one night only—February 24—at the Riverview Theater.The film centers on the protests by Northwest employees against 53% job cuts, 26% wage reductions, and cuts to benefits and pensions, as seen through the eyes of the Koch family. Koch’s father, a mechanic for Northwest, lost his job, prompting his daughter Melissa to document the fallout and exactly how her family was affected. Continue Reading

In Haiti when the quake hit: One Minnesotan’s story

Joëlle Vitiello is a professor of French and Francophone studies at Macalester College in St. Paul.  She also studies Haitian literature, and happened to be in Port-au-Prince on January 12, so she was an eyewitness to the earthquake in Haiti.  The Daily Planet interviewed Vitiello about her experiences during the earthquake, the aftermath, and what the future of Haiti now looks like. 
DP: First, can you talk about your background and how you got involved in Haiti prior to the earthquake? 
JV:  Early in my career I went a conference and met several Haitian writers who were living in Quebec. At the time, there were still some discourses about Quebec being independent.  I started to work on these issues, and discovered that there is a whole new body of literature that no one knew outside of the island. 
DP:  And what brought you to Haiti this time? JV:  This time I was joining a French festival organized with a focus on Haitian literature.  I was going to participate in a TV debate about Haitian writers who had recently passed away.  I was also going to finish research to prepare a course on Haiti and human rights. I had spent the week before in Quebec, and so I took the early flight that day. Continue Reading

Haiti teach-in focuses on U.S. role

On January 28, students, teachers, and citizens gathered for “An Unnatural Disaster: A Panel Discussion on the Earthquake, Neo-colonialism and Resistance in Haiti” at the University of Minnesota to analyze the political and social implications of the recent earthquake in Haiti.  The focus was on the role of the United States in Haiti, both historically and in response to the earthquake.  Joëlle Vitiello, a professor of Haitian literature and culture, recently returned from Haiti and was an eyewitness during the earthquake.  Though she couldn’t attend the discussion, in a prepared statement she addressed common misconceptions of the immediate aftermath.  Despite a dominant story in the news about “looting” and “scavenging,” Vitiello reports that solidarity amongst Haitians was instant, and she saw no violence.  Regardless, the desperate lack of food and water calls for Haitians to do what they can to survive, said Ruben Joanem, speaking to a packed auditorium.  Joanem is a Haitian immigrant and graduate student at the university. “After one week? If there’s water, I’m going to get it. These people are not looters. They are survivors,” he said. Continue Reading

Activists killed in Honduras

“As a revolutionary I will be today, tomorrow and forever on the front lines of my people, all the while knowing that I may lose my life.” — Walter Trochez, 25, murdered in Tegucigalpa on 12/13/09

The bodies of slain activists are piling up in Honduras. While it’s being kept quiet in most Honduran and international media, the rage is building among a dedicated network of friends spreading the word quickly with the tragic announcement of each compañero/aContinue Reading