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Bread and Roses

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Maya, a young Mexican, crosses the border to join her tough elder sister Rosa who works as a cleaner in a down town block, home to some of LA's most powerful corporate clients.

The two sisters have a deep but fiery relationship which is further stretched by Sam, a talented and anarchistic American activist, who is part of a dynamic campaign opposed to older methods of trade union organising. They have a simple motto, 'No Justice, No Peace' and embark on a peaceful but highly imaginative guerrilla campaign for trade union recognition against cleaning companies and powerful corporate owners of the tower blocks.

Ken Loach's first US-set film exposes a side of Los Angeles that to date has been swept under the corporate carpet.

Written by Paul Laverty, Bread And Roses is set around the early 1990s Justice for Janitors strike which saw an army of exploited cleaners - the invisible Latino immigrants - take to the streets to protest for basic workers' rights. The film stars Pilar Padilla and Elpidia Carrillo as the two sisters involved in the struggle and Adrien Brody as a union activist who leads the campaign against their employers.

For Loach, the appeal was that "the film was set in another world that existed side by side with the movie world. It's about organising immigrant workers, (who are) very vulnerable and easily exploited. Having worked on a film in Nicaragua (Carla's Song), this seemed another element in the same wider story, the relationship between the US and countries that are essentially its colonies, economically and culturally."

The film was shot according to Loach's pared-down aesthetics, with a high shooting ratio that allowed the director to let the dialogue run on until he had what he needed. Making the film in the US with a significant number of extras meant the budget, at $5.5m, was higher than usual. It also meant Loach had to occasionally break the rules "which is always quite entertaining", he says.


Type of film
Running Time
35mm Kodak
Ken Loach
Ulrich Felsberg
Executive Producer
Ulrich Felsberg
Jonathan Morris
Paul Laverty
Director of Photography
Barry Ackroyd
Ray Beckett
George Fenton
Principal Cast
Pilar Padilla, Adrien Brody, Elidia Carillo


Production status


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Last updated 26th November 2005

Production Company

Parallax (Bread and Roses) Ltd
7 Denmark Street
London WC2H 8LS

T 020 7836 1478


The Works
4 Great Portland Street

T 020 7612 1080