Friday, December 3, 2004; Page WE49
In the deepest depths of economic stagnation in Argentina, 30 members of a closed-down auto parts factory in Buenos Aires take the place over. They're not communists or socialists per se, they just want to restart their lives. But in the bifurcated world of rich and poor, they find themselves thrust into a quasi-revolutionary role. This documentary, by Canadian filmmakers Avi Lewis and Naomi Klein, follows them as they negotiate the perilous path to self-realization, hoping against hope that a local judge will grant them the right to appropriate the factory and its production machinery. The workers also hope that then-presidential candidate Carlos Menem (red-flagged in this emotionally partisan movie as a globalization-loving IMF pawn) will not be reelected. Their allies are other workers who have done the same for their own shuttered factories, including a ceramics plant and a garment factory. The filmmakers, self-described activists on the left side, are clearly with the program, and follow the workers through every travail. It's not the most original documentary ever filmed, shot in routine style. But it's the content that counts. We see very real people in crisis. And it's heartbreaking to watch leader Freddy Espinosa, fighting back tears as he experiences setback after setback. It's also genuinely moving to see disenfranchised individuals discovering self-determination from the hard ground up. Contains some police violence, obscenity and emotional material. In Spanish with subtitles. At Landmark's E Street Cinema.