Sweatshop Cinderella
Short Documentary, color
Director, Producer, Writer: Suzanne Wasserman
Director of Photography: Christina Voros
Editor: Ron Eyal
Original Score: John Putman


Sweatshop Cinderella is a short documentary about an extraordinary woman, born at the end of the 19th century, who led an extraordinary life. Using archival stills and footage, footage from the 1922 silent film Hungry Hearts, letters, newspaper clippings and a tape-recorded interview, this film will tell the story of the Jewish immigrant writer, Anzia Yezierska.

Around 1890, ten year-old Anzia Yezierska came to America with her parents and eight siblings from the small Polish village of Plotsk. Defying her parents, she pursued an education — earning a degree in home economics from Columbia University. She worked as a school teacher, married and divorced, married again, gave birth to a daughter, left her husband, moved to LA, returned to New York, divorced again – and then her life began…

She started to write.

In 1917, Anzia met and fell in love with the world famous educator, John Dewey. Although their relationship was never consummated, he encouraged her give up teaching and devote herself to writing. Her short stories appeared in Harper’s, New Republic, Good Housekeeping, Metropolitan, Century, and Forum. In 1919, her story “The Fat of the Land” was named best short story of the year. The following year, she published Hungry Hearts and Other Stories.

Hungry Hearts received rave reviews and in 1922 The Samuel Goldwyn Company produced a silent film adaptation. Called “The Sweatshop Cinderella” in the media, Yezierska became disenchanted with Hollywood and returned to New York City to write, publishing Salome of the Tenements (1922), Children of Loneliness (1923), Bread Givers (1925), Arrogant Beggar (1927), All I Could Never Be (1932) and her memoir Red Ribbon on a White Horse
(1950). Her work was re-discovered posthumously.

Gotham Center for New York City History
Pendant portiat of Anna