Crandell Theatre Presents The Wobblies and Discussion with Filmmaker Deborah Shaffer and Peter Biskind

Chatham, NY (July 5, 2022). Crandell Theatre, Columbia County’s historic, single-screen movie house on Main Street in Chatham, NY, presents the 1979 documentary The Wobblies on Sunday, July 10, at 1 pm. The Wobblies, directed by Deborah Shaffer and Stewart Bird,  chronicles the rise and fall of a unique labor union, Industrial Workers of the World. After the screening, filmmaker Deborah Shaffer will join Peter Biskind, Crandell Theatre board member and Executive Director of FilmColumbia, for a discussion and Q&A.

Founded in Chicago in 1905, the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) took to organizing unskilled workers into one big union and changed the course of American history. This compelling documentary of the IWW (or “The Wobblies” as they were known) tells the story of workers in factories, sawmills, wheat fields, forests, mines and on the docks as they organize and demand better wages, healthcare, overtime pay and safer working conditions. In some respects – men and women, black and white, skilled and unskilled workers – joining a union and speaking their minds seems so long ago, but in other ways, the film mirrors today’s headlines, depicting a nation torn by corporate greed.  Archival film footage and interviews with former workers (now in their 80s and 90s) pay tribute to the legacy of those in the IWW who paved the way and risked their lives for many of the rights that we still have today.

Deborah Shaffer is a Guggenheim Fellow and Academy Award-winning documentary filmmaker. Her National Endowment for the Humanities-funded film The Wobblies premiered at the New York Film Festival and was one of 25 titles added to the National Film Registry in 2021. Throughout her storied career, Shaffer has focused on human rights, from her Academy Award-winning short Witness to War: Dr. Charlie Clements (1985) to the Academy Award-nominated short Asylum (2004), and Emmy-winning Ladies First: The Women of Rwanda (2004). Shaffer is a 40-year part-time resident of Chatham, and many of her films have shown at FilmColumbia, including To Be Heard (2011) and Very Semi Serious (2015). Her most recent film Queen of Hearts: Audrey Flack (2019) premiered at FilmColumbia and won the Audience Award and Best Documentary at the Hamptons Documentary Film Festival.

Tickets are sold online at the Crandell website,, and at the box office. Admission is $11 nonmembers, $8 members, and $7 for children 12 and under.

Crandell Theatre, Inc., owns and operates the historic theater on Main Street in Chatham, NY, one of the few remaining single screen theaters in the United States and is listed on the national and state registers of historic buildings. The Crandell is supported through earned revenue, memberships, individual contributions, foundations, and grants. It receives general operating support from the New York State Council on the Arts. For information concerning the Crandell, visit the or contact the Crandell Office at 518-392-3445.