The Reel Work May Day Labor Film Festival takes place in California's central coast communities in and around Santa Cruz each year during the week of May First, International Workers Day.

The Reel Work 2024 Festival will consist of a series of events including a mix of in-person, virtual and hybrid formats. Events typically include a film screening and audience participation in discussion with the filmmaker.

Reel Work presents cultural events, bringing together award-winning documentary film producers, workers, activists, students, and the public with the goal of increasing community awareness of the central role of work in our lives, to discuss economic and global justice issues, and to bring alive the history and culture of the labor movement in the US and abroad. We highlight how workers and community members band together in united effort for mutual benefit to achieve justice and dignity in the streets, fields, and workshops.

Cinematic representations of labor each year include local and international works, world premieres as well as classics. We inspire festival participants to join in the struggle for worker rights locally, nationally and globally to achieve social justice and international solidarity.
An outpouring of generous cash and in-kind contributions from labor, business and community sponsors allows Reel Work to maintain its admission policy of voluntary donation at the door and support the type of independent documentary filmmaking that we have brought to the big screen since 2002.

Filmmakers may submit labor films through FilmFreeway or directly to the Reel Work Labor Film Festival. Go to where you will find our Submissions Form.
Festival does not offer awards, but may cover transportation and lodging expenses to bring both filmmakers and activists featured in films to participate in the festival.
Festival seeks permission to air selected entries in Reel Work Labor Film Series on local non-profit cable access television.
Festival seeks permission to retain screener copies of films, which are placed in the Labor Film collection of the local Santa Cruz Public Library.
Selected entrants may sell copies of films at their screening event.

Overall Rating
  • k b

    Great communication with very personable attention made our experience with RWLFF very rewarding and enjoyable. An important venue for all the non-mainstream projects that need exposure and moral support. Much obliged! ¡Palante!

    June 2023
  • Gerry Potter

    Excellent festival of labour and social issue films. A thoughtful team of staff and volunteers who are genuinely committed to social justice and to film made the experience a very positive one, even though it was online. And unlike many small festivals, they pay a screening fee.

    July 2021
  • Ludovica Schiaroli

    It was a great experience to know (even if via streaming Jeffrey and Dianna) and have the opportunity to present our film to the festival! It also helps us with Italian media that were, and still are, as a matter of fact, very interested in this festival and how the liked our film.
    And it was a pleasure to know how many people have seen our film. A special thank to Jeffrey and D. to their passion for this subject, which are not a la page, but still are very important for our society.
    This is an experience we - Ludovica and Ugo, the authors - really enjoyed and we recommend to everyone who has a film with such a message as work and social issue struggle.
    Ludovica Schiaroli

    July 2021
  • Aaraon Diaz

    It was an excellent experience. The organizers give me the chance to discuss my movie, Migranta con M de mamá with different audiences like students and adults. They were very kind with all the support. They were always there. I recommend 100% this Festival, actually is not just a festival is a community. Congratulations.

    July 2021