About the MRLF

Community Services

Photo Gallery

Labor Review newspaper

Labor Review Archive Project


Minneapolis Regional Labor Federation




“The Farmer-Labor Movement” documentary draws on historical photos, like this image of a Farmer's Holiday Association march near the Minnesota State Capitol.

Farmer-Labor movement film was seven years in the making

Adapted from the Minneapolis Labor Review, October 22, 2022

By Steve Share, Minneapolis Labor Review editor

SAINT PAUL — Working with historians Tom O’Connell and Anna Kuharjec, filmmaker Randy Croce spent seven years working part-time to produce “The Farmer-Labor Movement: A Minnesota Story” (USA, 2022, 56 minutes).

The film makes a point to connect the issues faced by farmers and workers who came together in the Farmer-Labor movement in the 1920s and 1930s with the issues of today. “We hope it provides a spark for discussions,” Croce said, “especially to provide parallels for what’s going on today with income inequality and polarization… It provides insights in the way people at that time addressed those challenges.”

Now that the documentary film is finished, “it’s nice to have it out there and get reactions,” Croce said.

The team’s work involved historical research, identifying photos and film clips — and getting permission to use them — filming interviews, writing and rewriting the script and working first with volunteers and then with professional actors to give voice to long-ago print interviews with long-dead Farmer-Labor activists. “The words were taken from interviews with the actual people,” Croce noted.

Relatives of Farmer-Labor activists provided family photos and shared
family stories. “You find one thing and it leads you to another,” Croce said.

The back issues of state’s three labor newspapers — Minneapolis Labor Review, St. Paul Union Advocate, and Duluth Labor World — also helped to share the history of the Farmer-Labor cause.

The film uses animation to tell part of the story. “We consciously used animation because a lot of those personal stories were never recorded,” Croce explained. “By using animation, we’re giving you the essence of what happened, but we’re not pretending that is precisely what happened.”

Funding for the project came from the Minnesota Historical Society and other sources. “A lot of people believed in this project,” Croce said.

The initial edit of the film ran three hours, Croce reported. Cutting to 56 minutes — for broadcast on public television — was hard. “Eventually, I’m thinking of doing a director’s cut,” Croce said.

Croce retired in 2018 after working 28 years for the University of Minnesota’s Labor Education Service.

Related links and stories:

November 10: East Side Freedom Library hosts online premiere of new documentary film about Minnesota’s Farmer-Labor Party
(Labor Review, October 22, 2022)

New documentary film presents history of Minnesota’s Farmer-Labor movement
By Peter Rachleff
(Labor Review, October 22, 2022)

Film trailer (1:14)

Stream the entire film on YouTube (56:48)

Website of Farmer-Labor Education Committee

Home Who We Are News Gallery Take Action Calendar
Minneapolis Regional Labor Federation, AFL-CIO
312 Central Ave., Suite 542, Minneapolis, MN 55414
Phone: 612-379-4206 Fax: 612-379-1307
Have feedback or questions about this site? Contact the webmaster.