Bread or Blood carries the viewer on a journey along rails and rivers, following the route across the United States taken by Kelly's Army in 1894. Contemporary voices punctuate movement through the landscapes that surround America's old arteries. Steel wheels polished bright by thousands of miles of steel rail carry you over mountains, through deserts, high plains, and fields of corn to the meandering currents and eddies of the Des Moines, Mississippi, and Ohio Rivers.
Bread or Blood is a call to revisit the demand for a public works program by thousands of unemployed men who traveled across the United States with little more than the clothes upon their backs. Spurred on by Jacob Coxey's petition to congress to create jobs using non-interest treasury notes, an Industrial Army led by Charles T. Kelly left San Francisco for Washington, DC to deliver a living petition. Bread or Blood follows the route of this "petition in boots".
Bread or Blood reveals the country of the United States through long, wide landscapes and audio portraits of a diverse group of Americans. There are images of majestic mountains and valleys, arid deserts and water. River music is recorded along with the song of steel freight trains gaining momentum for the open road. Environmental sound design is instrumental to the creation of a poetic structure upon which disembodied voices are hung. This is a first person film that conveys a larger voice. In the overall narrative, a sense of we is created by the concerns and observations of others.