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Salty Dog Blues
52 minutes
English subtitles
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Salty Dog Blues

SALTY DOG BLUES features a group of men and women of color who served in the United States Merchant Marine from 1937 – 1989. This nine-year project examines their development as a multi-racial and international labor force, their contributions to the World War II efforts, their relationship to the National Maritime Union and the Seafarers International Union, and a dispute over lost health benefits.

Through chronicling the lives of these men and women with a median age of 82 and who are beset with a host of life-threatening illnesses, the film focuses on how they navigated issues of racism, disparities in the workplace, gender and familial relations. It also shows how the U.S. Merchant Marine provided a viable source of income and upward mobility for thousands of men and women of color from the U.S. Mainland, Puerto Rico, and other parts of the world.

The film explores the painful reality of increasing medical bills and stagnant pension plans that thousands of men and women are confronting. Now, in their 70’s, 80’s and 90’s they live on an average of only $250 per month. The retirees are squarely in a battle for survival and have decided to assume an active role in recouping their rightful share.

SALTY DOG BLUES, narrated by Felipe Luciano and told through on-camera testimonies, archival photos and stock footage, is a unique look at a piece of maritime history not previously documented. It is a microcosmic view of transnational bonds established over sixty years ago between men and women of color, their organizing efforts to receive justice, the potentially devastating consequences of stagnant pension plans, and the lost of medical benefits that were promised at the time of enlistment.

Winner of the Best Documentary Award at the Workers Unite Film Festival in New York, SALTY DOG BLUES is available for public screenings and educational purchase.
Pricing & Ordering
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Higher Education Institutions DSL 1-year License $150.00
Higher Education Institutions DSL 3-years License $300.00
Higher Education Institutions DVD Sale $300.00
Higher Education Institutions Life Digital File Sale $600.00
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• Best Documentary, Workers Unite Film Festival
• World Premiere, Vancouver Film Center, 2013
• New York Premiere, Workers Unite Film Festival, 2013
• Bronx Music Heritage Center, 2013
• Reel Sisters of the African Diaspora Film Festival, 2013
• Scribe Media Center, Philadelphia, 2013
• The Creative Alliance, Balitmore, 2014

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TWN acknowledges that in New York we are on the unceded territory of the Lenni Lenape, Canarsie, Shinecock, and Munsee peoples and challenges the harm that continues to be inflicted upon Indigenous and People of Color communities here and abroad, which is why we all need to be part of the struggle for rights, equality and justice.

TWN is supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts, New York State Council on the Arts, New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, Color Congress, MOSAIC, New York Community Trust, Peace Development Fund, Ford Foundation, Golden Globe Foundation, Kolibri Foundation and individual donors.