Anti-Wal-Mart film makes nationwide grassroots splash

Predicted as the largest ever grassroots-based film release, the documentary “Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price” is set to open at 7,000 locations around the country Nov. 13-19. Wal-Mart executives, apparently terrified of the new negative publicity on top of an already burgeoning anti-Wal-Mart movement, have launched an attack campaign against the movie.

The film, directed by Robert Greenwald of “Outfoxed” fame, is scheduled to be shown free at 1,000 churches and at a variety of other venues, sponsored by student, social justice and women’s organizations, unions, small businesses and other local groups.

Greenwald said the movie is “about one corporation crushing the American dream for millions of ordinary people — right or left, Republican or Democrat, red or blue.”

The movie features interviews with current and former Wal-Mart employees. The filmmakers say it depicts “families struggling to fight against a goliath. From a family business owner in the Midwest to a preacher in California, from workers in Florida to a poet in Mexico, dozens of film crews on three continents bring the story of an assault on families and American values.”

Greenwald said, “Wal-Mart is systematically destroying the fabric of our nation, pretending to be the great American workplace while at the same time showing thinly veiled contempt for working families, small business owners, and the very people it employs.”

Studies have reported that for every two jobs Wal-Mart creates in a community, three are lost. Reports show the company runs local mom and pop stores out of business, breaks union drives, and pays such low wages that many full-time employees qualify for government assistance — with Wal-Mart supplying the paperwork.

Wal-Mart has been hit with class action suits — some victorious, some pending — for its business practices across the country. The suits charge the company with sexism, racism, abuse of immigrants and shocking mistreatment of its labor force.

The movement against the chain is gaining strength. Activists in Chicago recently stopped a proposed Wal-Mart from opening. The Wal-Mart Free NYC Coalition has so far been successful in keeping the store from creeping into New York. Unions are making organization of Wal-Mart a priority, and the Internet abounds with anti-Wal-Mart web sites.

It is hardly surprising that the corporation seems to be beginning to feel on the defensive. It has even released a video attempting to refute the movie’s promotional trailer. It has also sent newspapers negative reviews of the director’s previous films, apparently hoping to tarnish his image. The New York Times reports Wal-Mart has set up a “war room” to fight for its image, much like a political campaign.

To find a screening near you, visit www.walmartmovie.com. The PWW is sponsoring a Nov. 18 screening in New York City.