September 9, 2016 9:48 am
From today until Friday, September 16th, the free KTQ50 film is As Goes Janesville (2012). "An up-close view of one of the meanest and most dramatic chapters in recent American politics: the battle over collective-bargaining rights for Wisconsin state employees and the subsequent effort to recall the Republican governor, Scott Walker, from office... has a narrative drive unusual for a 60-minute television documentary, pulling us along like a political thriller. " — Mike Hale, The New York Times As Goes Janesville, so goes America. The Emmy-nominated film reports from ground zero of the recession-ridden heartland: the town of Janesville, Wisconsin. When bankrupt GM shuts down the community’s century-old plant, thousands of workers are forced to leave their families in search of decent jobs. Meanwhile, local business leaders seize the moment to woo new companies with the promise of lower wages, reduced regulation and tax breaks. Their powerful alliance with newly-elected governor Scott Walker, whose "open for business" manifesto morphs into a "divide and conquer" anti-union strategy that rips apart the state, triggers an historic recall election and thrusts Wisconsin's civil war onto front pages nationwide. A cautionary tale for a polarized country falling short of the American Dream, the film follows three years in the lives of laid off workers struggling to survive, business leaders trying to reinvent their local economy and a state senator caught in the middle, trying to bring peace to his warring state while protecting workers' rights. Following the film's release, Brad Lichtenstein, the film's director, was inspired to create BizzVizz, a corporate accountability app. The app allows users to photograph a brand's logo to access corporate financial data regarding how much tax the corporation pays, how much money they receive in government subsidies and to whom they give their political donations. Only a month after the app's launch in February 2013, it had over 30,000 users. Brad also wrote a fantastic blog for the Sunlight Foundation entitled "Don't Get Mad, Get Data!" explaining how he was motivated to create the app to "put a little power back into the hands of ordinary citizens." The film was broadcast on PBS through the Independent Lens program. It later played a successful festival run and was nominated for an Emmy for "Outstanding Investigative Journalism: Long-Form". Tom Roston from POV described the film as "A punch to the gut," and Matt Fagerholm from Hollywood Chicago deemed it a "Riveting maddening picture...one of the year's best documentaries." The film is a co-production of 371 Productions, Kartemquin Films and Independent Television Service (ITVS). As Goes Janesville is available for purchase on DVD here.