Councilwoman is the political story of Carmen Castillo, who came to the U.S. in 1994 from the Dominican Republic. Employed as a hotel worker for one of the most prominent hotels in Providence, RI, she became actively involved in the hotel workers union, which ultimately led to her election to the Providence City Council. Directed by Margo Guernsey, Councilwoman follows Castillo through the second half of her first term ending with her re-election campaign in 2014.
Before you say it, Councilwoman is not an hour-long campaign commercial for Castillo. While the film doesn’t challenge any of her political positions, it does tell a good story of her as a person, warts and all. We get a brief glimpse into her personal history when she first arrived in the states with her three daughters as well as the complications with her disabled son.
“…follows Castillo through the second half of her first term ending with her re-election campaign…”
Her political life began when she spoke with a local reporter about the low wages and conditions at the hotel that she and her fellow co-workers go through to survive day-to-day. The next morning, her face was on the front page of the newspaper, that was placed in front of every room in the hotel. Rather than hide, she reported to work and stood behind what she said.
The big political issue of the film is her fight for a $15 minimum wage for hotel workers. One incredible fact you discover is that even though Castillo is on the city council, she still continues to work at the hotel for her family. When she’s not working, you see her fight in the community, during council meetings, and even at the state level.
"…how politics are played out at a local level"