The Take (Full Version: Playlist)

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In suburban Buenos Aires, thirty unemployed auto-parts workers walk into their idle factory, roll out sleeping mats and refuse to leave.

All they want is to re-start the silent machines. But this simple act – The Take – has the power to turn the globalization debate on its head.

In the wake of Argentina’s dramatic economic collapse in 2001, Latin America’s most prosperous middle class finds itself in a ghost town of abandoned factories and mass unemployment. The Forja auto plant lies dormant until its former employees take action. They’re part of a daring new movement of workers who are occupying bankrupt businesses and creating jobs in the ruins of the failed system.

But Freddy, the president of the new worker’s co-operative, and Lalo, the political powerhouse from the Movement of Recovered Companies, know that their success is far from secure. Like every workplace occupation, they have to run the gauntlet of courts, cops and politicians who can either give their project legal protection or violently evict them from the factory.

The story of the workers’ struggle is set against the dramatic backdrop of a crucial presidential election in Argentina, in which the architect of the economic collapse, Carlos Menem, is the front-runner. His cronies, the former owners, are circling: if he wins, they’ll take back the companies that the movement has worked so hard to revive.

Armed only with slingshots and an abiding faith in shop-floor democracy, the workers face off against the bosses, bankers and a whole system that sees their beloved factories as nothing more than scrap metal for sale.

With The Take, director Avi Lewis, one of Canada’s most outspoken journalists, and writer Naomi Klein, author of the international bestseller No Logo, champion a radical economic manifesto for the 21st century. But what shines through in the film is the simple drama of workers’ lives and their struggle: the demand for dignity and the searing injustice of dignity denied.

 

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America's Broken Dreams: The New American Poor - The Middle Class, 4.6 out of 5 based on 14 ratings
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America’s Broken Dreams: The New American Poor – The Middle Class

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Lose your job in Australia and there’s a good chance there will be a safety net to catch you. The Newstart allowance, Medicare benefits, along with other programs provide help. But it’s a very different story in the United States.

It may be the wealthiest country in the world but as documentary maker Philippe Levasseur shows in America’s Broken Dreams, when you lose your job in the US there is very little to protect you. In 2008 the global financial crisis hit the poor first, but now America’s middle class is being devastated.

Larry, 52, used to manage a large customer service department. But two years ago he lost his job and house. Today he lives in a motel room with his wife and two children and scrapes by on $820 dollars a month, welcoming tourists to Disney World. After he has paid the motel fees, he’s left with just $70 a week for food and other necessities.

Terry used to be a sales manager and enjoyed a good life until he was made redundant. He ended up roaming from motel to motel in Florida in his car and eventually was judged ‘economically incapable’ of raising his six children. The three eldest were placed in foster care.

There are currently 1,800 children growing up in the motels around Disney World. They move from school to school as their parents are forced to find cheaper accommodation.

Amber and Daniel are married but are forced to live on different sides of the United States. Why? It’s the only way they can honestly make enough money to stop themselves and their children going hungry.

Three unique stories, but all have one thing in common: they are America’s new poor, who struggle for work but can barely survive.

Filmmaker Philippe Levasseur takes his camera into car parks, trailer homes and motels across the country as middle class families try to regain the American dream. What he found is simply shocking.

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America's Broken Dreams: The New American Poor - The Middle Class, 4.6 out of 5 based on 14 ratings
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