Some of the best documentary films have been shot on location in the midst of labor and community struggles, like Barbara Kopple’s “Harlan County USA,” or Michael Moore’s “Roger and Me.” The work of the director, crew and editor artfully carries us into the midst of these passionate, nitty-gritty events. Robert Greenwald, producer and director of “Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch’s War on Journalism,” a critical look at the Fox News Network and the control by multinational corporations over the public’s access to news and information, brings a new contribution to the documentary genre with “Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price.”

Greenwald wants his film to take the viewer on “a deeply personal journey into the everyday lives of families struggling to fight Goliath.” He used dozens of film crews on three continents to bring to the film the intensely personal stories of “an assault on families and American values.” The film includes scenes with workers in Florida, a poet in Mexico, a preacher in California and the owner of a small family business in the Midwest. “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,” Greenwald said.

The film’s premiere week (Nov. 13-19) is a major part of Wal-Mart Watch’s Higher Expectations Week, a nationwide campaign and week of education and action, including store events, campus events and rallies with state and local legislators. (Info: walmartwatch.com). “The film can shine a light, but the work organizers are doing will make change,” Greenwald said. “I hope people will be affected, moved and inspired by the film. We know Wal-Mart doesn’t stop, nor can we. So the film is designed to be a tool that groups will use as they fight on.”

Greenwald’s new film uses a groundbreaking grassroots distribution strategy: the premiere will take place at thousands of community based settings in all 50 states and 19 countries. Participants include communities of faith (over 1,000 churches have signed on), schools, family businesses, and community and campus groups. The Rev. Ron Stief said, “The point of our sponsorship of this film is that it’s time for this country to have a dialogue about if the Wal-Mart model is the best we can do in our local economic development.”

Many of the film premieres will be at house parties bringing together neighbors, families and friends. Want to attend a premiere? Go to the web site and find one near you: www.walmartmovie.com. (It’s not too late to hold your own premiere event — see the box for more information.)

The film will no doubt cause quite a stir, and battle lines are forming. Wal-Mart has a “secret spin strategy” and plans to respond “very aggressively” to the film as they do to any perceived threat to their corporate goals. Greenwald has a blog that features some of the leaked information of Wal-Mart’s plans: www.walmartmovie.com/blog.

“Hundreds of current and former Wal-Mart employees and executives have already come forward to tell their stories, and we expect thousands more will do so in the near future,” Greenwald said. “It is the people who Wal-Mart has hurt, the families it has destroyed, who are the backbone of this movie and this movement.”

Barbara Russum (brussum@pww.org) contributed to this story.

Host a premiere!

Community centers, churches, schools and campus groups, small family businesses, parking lots, and your living room are invited to host a premiere of “Wal-Mart: the High Cost of Low Price” during the week of Nov. 13-19. The only cost is $10 to purchase a discounted DVD screening kit combo in November and whatever you choose to spend on popcorn.

The film’s web site provides materials to help you make your event a success including downloadable posters, logos, and other graphics. Make your screening public and it will be listed on the web site, so others in your area will be able to find it and attend.

Thousands of screenings are already scheduled in all 50 states and 19 countries. Want to host a premiere? Any questions? Check out the web site: www.walmartmovie.com.

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