4100 Redwood Rd #406
Oakland, CA 94619

Brothers On The Line

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Arts & Culture: Documentary, Television
Economy: Business, Corporations
Human Development: Labor
Human Rights: Civil Rights
Politics: Activism, Civil Society, Corruption & Transparency, Democracy, Globalization, Justice and Crime

Project Geography

US: National, District of Columbia, Michigan, West Virginia


Raised to date: $495,000.00
Estimate to complete:
Total Estimated Budget: $495,000.00
The budget numbers above are accurate as of 02/01/2012



Media Type


Project End Use


Key Personnel

Sasha Reuther
Director, Co-Producer

Sasha Reuther is a Producer/Director of reality TV, commercials, music videos, and promotional films for networks and clients including National Geographic, Sundance Channel, VIBE Magazine, Armani, Motorola, and The Starwood Hotel Group. His first documentary feature, Brothers On The Line, is an award-winning historical odyssey exploring the lives of labor organizers Walter, Roy, and Victor Reuther (his grandfather) and their extraordinary, though equally contentious, leadership of the United Auto Workers union. Aside from his film work, Sasha has written articles for Time Magazine, Huffington Post, and The IFP. Born in Detroit and a graduate of NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, he lives in NYC with his wife, Sonya.   

Nancy Roth

Nancy Roth made the move from narrative to documentary film production in 1999 –helping filmmakers achieve their vision on a variety of projects.  Recent producing credits include When I Came Home, which premiered at the 2006 Tribeca Film Festival and won the NY Loves Film Documentary Award.  Occupation: Dreamland, which was released theatrically in 2005, won the 2006 Independent Spirit ‘Truer Than Fiction’ Award and aired on the Sundance Channel; Pack, Strap, Swallow which also had its broadcast premiere on the Sundance Channel and The Perfect Life, which premiered at the 2006 Slamdance Film Festival and is being distributed in the educational market.  Nancy co-produced WorstPossible Illusion: The Curiosity Cabinet of Vik Muniz, which aired on the Independent Lens Series on PBS in October 2003.  Prior to this, she Co-Produced Greener Grass: Cuba, Baseball and the United States, which was produced in association with ITVS and Thirteen/WNET, had a national PBS broadcast in 2000 and received the BanffRockie Award in 2001.  Nancy has a BA in Film from Hunter College (C.U.N.Y) in New York City.

Deborah Peretz

Deborah Peretz is a film editor with nearly twenty years of experience in documentary film. Among the directors she has worked with are such highly respected filmmakers as David Grubin, Susan Lacy and DeWitt Sage. Some of her recent credits include The Trials of Robert Oppenheimer, The Jewish Americans, Ernest Hemingway: Rivers to the Sea, The Secret Life of the BrainJoni Mitchell: Woman of Heart and Mind and R.F.K. Ms.Peretz was awarded an Emmy for editing Judy Garland: By Myself, and an Emmy nomination for Leonard Bernstein: Reaching For The Note. She also received an A.C.E. award for Edward R Murrow: This Reporter. A lifelong New Yorker, she lives with her husband and two children in Morningside Heights.


Outreach/Engagement Plan(s)

Support for this project is diverse and enthusiastic. Michigan residents from all walks of life have some history with or personal connection to the auto industry. The UAW legacy is most often recognized as very progressive in community organizing. Union members and their families from across the state and around the country are inspired by the dramatic story of labor’s pioneers. Business leaders, politicians and social activists not only recognize the importance of the Reuther story in American history but also its influence today and thus, the timeliness of this film project. Arts and Cultural organizations see a powerful educational resource in our film and a unique opportunity to engage a new audience.

The potential audience for Brothers On TheLine is vast and varied – comprised of those interested in history, labor, civil rights and other social movements. Appealing to a wide range of age groups, the film will shed new light and personal perspective on historical events for the generation who lived during these times, and also serve to educate younger generations who know very little about the labor movement and the important strides made by its champions. Moving beyond the realm of traditional chronological documentaries, Brothers On The Line will present historical events through the lens of a dynamic and dramatic story-line, captivating students, teachers, and mainstream viewers alike.

We plan to launch the film’s distribution through the festival circuit, followed by theatrical screenings, television broadcast (domestic and international) and finally, DVD distribution.  The educational market will be a key segment of the distribution plan for Brothers On The Line, with a resourceful website and lesson plans to further enhance the film’s potential to inform, enlighten and inspire. Beyond schools and universities, we envision specialty screenings – at labor and civil rights conferences, union halls and other community organizations throughout Michigan, across the U.S. and abroad.  


New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA)
Solidarity/Healthcare Justice Education Fund
Michigan Labor History Society
Wheeling National Heritage Society
Individual Donors (Fundraiser Events)
American Rights At Work Education Fund
Canadian Auto Workers Social Justice Fund
Puffin Foundation
Reuther family
Walter and May Reuther Memorial Fund
Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs
Michigan Humanities Council
Yip Harburg Foundation
Americans for Democratic Action Education Fund
Oakland Township Historical Society
South Charleston Museum Foundation
Shelley & Donald Rubin Foundation
Alliance for American Manufacturing
Center for Alternative Media & Culture
Health Alliance Plan (HAP)
American Income Life Insurance

Short Synopsis

Brothers On The Line is a documentary feature exploring the legacy of the Reuther brothers, pioneering labor organizers whose leadership of the United Auto Workers (UAW) transformed the social, economic, and political landscape of a nation.


Comprised of never-before-seen footage from the UAW archive, unique first-hand accounts, and stirring narration by Martin Sheen, this film takes an in-depth look at a provocative history. It not only weaves a striking personal narrative of one family's commitment but, provides timely commentary on issues that resonate far beyond their era, from the virtual collapse of the “Big 3” US automakers to current debates over workers rights, trade agreements, and national healthcare. The goal of the film is to stimulate a multi-generational debate, with the potential to motivate communities to implement the lessons learned from past struggles in current social and economic challenges. 

Brothers On The Line opens in 1930s Detroit, as a new breed of industrial revolution rises from the colossal factories of the Motor City. Taking a stand against oppressive working conditions, Walter, Roy, and Victor Reuther overcome intimidation and violence to help organize “sit down” strikes, the most successful occurring at the General Motors facilities in Flint. Their bold rhetoric challenges the mighty automakers, winning unprecedented quality-of-life gains, giving a voice to the rank-and-file, and establishing the United Auto Workers as one of the most influential unions in American history. As UAW President for nearly 3 decades, Walter is heralded as a visionary negotiator and statesman, with his brothers as advisors on community, political, and international affairs. Together, they forge a potent coalition of Washington lawmakers, overseas dignitaries, and social activist forces. The union’s innovative settlement details encourage a flourishing middle-class, while its resources support the burgeoning civil rights movement in a shared fight for equality. On the opposite side of this impassioned battle, stands a devious web of adversaries threatened by the Reuthers’ ambitions and determined to silence them by any means necessary. FBI files overflow with accusations of power-hungry subversion. Conservatives and leaders of industry team up to discredit the union. Dissent within the UAW bubbles to the surface as the Reuther brothers face heart-wrenching consequences at the crossroads of their political loyalty and militant rank-and-file roots. In a shocking turn of events, assassination attempts strike down Walter and Victor in their homes! Both narrowly survive while the ensuing investigation uncovers further controversy. Behind the headlines, lies a stirring personal story of determination, sacrifice, triumph, and tragedy. The odyssey of the Reuther brothers and the issues that crossed their family table are a microcosm of the American experience from the Great Depression to “Great Society” and beyond.

Structured as a dramatic three-act narrative, Brothers On The Line comes to life through a captivating collection of mixed-media elements: Previously unreleased motion picture footage and photos from the United Auto Workers internal archive depict the anguish of factory life, key strike battles, rousing speeches, intriguing Senate hearings, civil rights marches, and much more. Oral histories recorded at milestones in the Reuthers’ careers, open a portal to the past. Current high-definition interviews offer decisive analysis of the history, with subjects including Reuther family members, union allies, former UAW President Doug Fraser, activist Dolores Huerta, historians, auto execs, Civil Rights leader Andrew Young, Rep. John Conyers Jr., as well as the late Sen. Ted Kennedy. Original HD b-roll provides depth to climactic scenes and reflects a lost era: Detroit and Flint factories, family homes, city landmarks, memorabilia, etc. Narration delivered by award-winning actor Martin Sheen weaves the fabric of an engaging storyline with his unmistakable cadence. Robust sound effects bring to life silent archival films, accentuating the size and power of the auto industry shop floor. The music soundtrack consists of popular anthems of the day, from union marching songs to 60’s Rhythm-and-Blues, along with an original score, pulsing with tension, exhilaration, and the drive of the assembly line. Finally, the evolving design of the automobile itself is explored. Imagery of classic American cars and auto body parts, from hood emblems to tailfins, are incorporated in scene transitions and used to define eras through cultural icons.

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