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Between Ship and Shore

Steve Dorst
Steve Dorst
A port worker standing in front of several blue ship crates.

At America’s busiest port, longshoreman earn white-collar wages for blue-collar work. But trade policy and automation threaten job prospects and their unique community.

Filmed in an intimate cinema vérité style, BETWEEN SHIP AND SHORE explores the lives of people who work at the San Pedro Bay Port Complex (Ports of L.A. and Long Beach). Mammoth gantry cranes unloading gargantuan ships are juxtaposed with the daily aspirations and joys of longshoremen and their families.

My film suggests that ports do a lot more in the modern social order than grease the wheels of global capitalism. Yes, longshoreman are sentries at a critical chokepoint in the global economy, which explains their outsized power and high wages. But their livelihoods are under threat: in the short-term by Trump’s new trade policies and in the long-term by automation. BETWEEN SHIP AND SHORE is a deep dive into a subculture that has long escaped the documentary lens—until now.