The Hand That Feeds

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Film phase:Completed


Shy sandwich-maker Mahoma López and his undocumented immigrant coworkers set out to end abusive conditions at a New York restaurant chain owned by powerful investors. The epic power struggle that ensues turns a single city block into a battlefield in America’s new wage wars.


The Hand That Feeds is co-directed by Rachel Lears and Robin Blotnick.

Rachel Lears looks directly at the camera. Portrait in black and white.Rachel’s most recent feature documentary, The Hand That Feeds, was nominated for an Emmy in 2017, and won awards and recognition at Full Frame, DOC NYC, AFI Docs, Chicago Latino, and numerous other festivals on the 2014-15 circuit. It was broadcast on PBS, and supported by Sundance Documentary Film Program, the Ford Foundation, Latino Public Broadcasting, Chicken & Egg Pictures, New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA), Bertha BRITDOC Connect Fund, and the Cinereach Project at Sundance Institute, and was featured at Good Pitch NY, Sundance Creative Producing Lab & Summit, and IFP’s Spotlight on Documentaries. Rachel’s first film Birds of Passage (2010) was supported by Fulbright and the National Film Institute of Uruguay (ICAU), had two community screening tours of Uruguay sponsored by the Ministry of Education and Culture, and was broadcast nationally throughout Latin America. Her video art collaborations with artist Saya Woolfalk have screened at numerous galleries and museums worldwide since 2008. Rachel was a 2013 Sundance Creative Producing Fellow, is bilingual in Spanish, and holds a PhD in Cultural Anthropology and a graduate certificate in Culture and Media from NYU. She is currently directing a new film about Brand New Congress and Justice Democrats called Knock Down the House. Between independent projects, she works as a cinematographer, director/ producer, and consultant.


Robin Blotnik looks directly at the camera. Portrait in black and white.

Robin is a 2013 Sundance Creative Producing Fellow. His feature documentary debut, Gods and Kings (2012), about masks, magic and media in the Guatemalan highlands, won the Intangible Culture Prize at the RAI International Festival of Ethnographic Films (Scotland, 2013). The Hand That Feeds (2014), about a bitter struggle for justice at a New York City deli, broadcast on PBS (where it was nominated for an Emmy) and picked up awards at several festivals (including Full Frame, DOC NYC and AFI Docs) and press acclaim at its theatrical run. City of Movement, an archival collage he directed and edited, is currently playing on infinite loop at the Museum of the City of New York.


The Hand That Feeds  has received a nomination for a 2017 Emmy: Outstanding Business and Economic Documentary; Audience Award for Best Feature, Full Frame Documentary Film Festival, Durham, NC (April 2014); Audience Award, DOC NYC New York, NY (November 2014); was selected as “Best of Fest”, AFI DOCS, Silver Spring, MD & Washington, DC (June 2014); Jury Prize, Best Documentary Feature, Sidewalk Film Festival, Birmingham, AL (August 2014); an International Jury Prize, Document Human Rights Film Festival, Glasgow, Scotland (October 2014); Audience Award, aluCine Latin Film+Media Arts Festival, Toronto, Canada (April 2015); Audience Award for Best Documentary, Chicago Latino Film Festival, Chicago, IL (April 2015); Best Documentary, Reading Film Festival, Reading, PA (November 2015); and Finalist, SIMA Awards 2016.

The film has screened at many festivals, as well as in numerous colleges, universities and communities via educational distribution.

The filmmakers partnered with Food Chain Workers Alliance, were supported by Ford Foundation and Bertha BRITDOC: Connect Fund in creating an impact campaign and interactive map at