Controversial film returns

Sixty years have passed since a film Salt of the Earth was shown at Castlegar’s Castle Theatre,

  • Nov. 13, 2014 6:00 a.m.


Chris Stedile


Castlegar News


Sixty years have passed since a film Salt of the Earth was shown at Castlegar’s Castle Theatre, and on Sunday, November 16 at 2 p.m. it will be making a return.

Salt of the Earth is a controversial film created in 1954 based on the 1951 strike against the Empire Zinc Company in Grant County, New Mexico.

The film was blacklisted upon release for allegedly having ties to communism and only appeared in roughly a dozen theatres in the United States.

At the time of the film’s release, McCarthyism ­— the practice of making accusations of disloyalty, subversion, or treason without proper regard for evidence — was slowly spreading into Canada.

In a show of resistance to this way of thinking, Trail’s Local 480 group requested that local theatres have showings of the film.

The Castle Theatre was the only venue to agree.

The film was shown five times to over 900 people.

Now, after all these years, writer, photographer and labour historian Ron Verzuh is bringing this piece of Kootenay history back for another screening.

Having been born in Trail himself, Verzuh is very passionate about this opportunity.

“It’s exciting to me as a historian because my home area had something to do with it,” Verzuh said.

“Back then, things were getting to the point where if you had a different view than the status quo you were hammered hard.”

The film itself was not actually communist propaganda as the government at the time would have had people believe.

Salt of the Earth centres on Mexican-American miners and their families as they strike against the Empire Zinc Company — named Delaware Zinc in the film —  for equal wages with Caucasian workers in other mines and respect from their bosses.

Verzuh explained that the film was also an early starting point for the womens’ rights movement.

“During the strike the women picketed because the men were told they would be jailed for doing so,” Verzuh said.

While the woman were still held responsible for picketing and actions were taken against them it was a large step forward for women at the time.

The miners ended up winning their strike against the Zinc Company and thus inspired the film.

Verzuh has been in contact with some of the miners and women involved with the strike and he said they are thrilled to hear that their story is being told again to a new generation.

“[The strike] has drifted away and kind of been forgotten about. But it’s nice to look back and remember that this is how things once were,” Verzuh added.

Verzuh will be at the screening with cameras of his own, documenting the event, and he hopes to get a good sized crowd and for people to enjoy this historic film.


Just Posted

West Kootenay opinion sought on health care issues

Rural Evidence Review getting strong response to survey call-out

25 years of Nite Trek for West Kootenay Scouts, Guides

Annual adventure hike is hosted by the 107th Baden Powell Guild

West Kootenay RCMP charge man with impaired driving in school zone

Sgt. Chad Badry reports on impaired drivers and other high risk offences

Company granted leave to appeal Lemon Creek charges

Executive Flight Centre won a decision in the BC Court of Appeal

Extensive smoke, heat damage to Castlegar home after fire on Friday

One occupant suffered burns after fleeing house with pet

Kelowna toddler suffers cracked skull after fall from balcony

Neighbour who found the two-year-old boy said he has a bump the size of a golf ball on his head

RCMP probe if teen was intentionally hit with ski pole by mystery skier on B.C. mountain

The incident happened on March 20 on Grouse Mountain. Police are urging witnesses to come forward

Support growing for orphaned Okanagan child after father dies in highway crash

Family thanks emergency crews for assistance in traumatic incident

Baby boom seniors putting pressure on B.C. long-term care: report

B.C. leads Canada in growth of dementia, dependence on care

Pipeline protester chimes in on Justin Trudeau’s B.C. fundraising speech

The government purchased the Trans Mountain pipeline and expansion project for $4.5 billion

UPDATED: B.C. man says he’ll take People’s Party lawsuit as far as he can

Federal judge shut down Satinder Dhillon’s ‘nonsensical’ motion to bar use of PPC name in byelection

Canada stripping citizenship from Chinese man over alleged marriage fraud

The move comes amid severely strained relations between Ottawa and Beijing

Nevada court orders former Vancouver man to pay back $21.7M to investors

The commission says Michael Lathigee committed fraud over a decade ago

Most Read