As Goes Janesville (2013)

  • Director: Brad Lichtenstein
  • Community Engagement Coordinator: Paul Kjelland
Film Length:
88 min
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"As Goes Janesville" catapults viewers to the front lines of America's debate over the future of our middle class a debate that has become a pitched battle over unions in the normally tranquil state of Wisconsin. First GM shuts down Janesville's century-old plant, causing mass layoffs and exile in search of work. Then newly elected governor Scott Walker ignites a firestorm by introducing a billto end collective bargaining, unleashing a fury of protest and sparking a recall election. We tell the epic tale from the inside, following 3 years in the lives of laid off workers trying to reinvent themselves; business leaders aligned with the Governor to promote a pro business agenda that they believe will woo new companies to town, and a state senator caught in the middle, trying to bring peace to his warring state and protect workers' rights. As Goes Janesville, so goes America, a country mired in polarization and falling short of the American Dream.
Plot Outline
As Goes Janesville is an intimate verit documentary that follows three years in the lives of working people, business leaders, and elected officials in one American town, trying to reinvent their local economy and their lives - amidst Americas worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.

Our cameras began capturing the unfolding story years before Wisconsin was thrust into national headlines, with extraordinary access to people on all sides of the Janesville story. Workers go back to school to train for non-union jobs that pay a third of GM factory wages. Others leave family behind to chase union jobs with GM in other states. The film goes behind the scenes with business leader Mary Willmer-Sheedy as she co-chairs a private economic development initiative that is supported by the governor in an effort to woo companies to town, while a newly-elected Democratic State Senator who prides himself on conciliatory pragmatism must resort to extreme measures to oppose the Governors anti-union initiatives.

Both a microcosm of Americas economic crisis and a deep immersion in the countrys tug of war over labor relations, As Goes Janesvilles story offers critical insight and heart wrenching humanity when we need it most: as we enter a presidential election season that has already engulfed our nation in an inflamed and polarizing fight over how we should realize the American Dream, if we can realize it all.

The Film Campaign

Our engagement strategy for As Goes Janesville has two primary components.1) Viewing the movie as a cautionary tale about what happens with political rancor upends efforts to work towardscommon goals, Nation Consultings team is helping us to build partnerships in communities across America toconvene business and labor in a dialogue about how to overcome extreme political polarization and join in aneffort to find common solutions to our economic problems.2) Building on the films storyline about corporate accountability, 371 will launch bizVizz, a mobile app andwebsite that makes business visible. Designed to promote corporate transparency and accountability, bizVizzgives users instant access to companies tax and employment data. We are pleased to be working with ITVS,Nation Consulting, Faculty Creative, Good Jobs First and Citizens for Tax Justice on this project.Both efforts are designed to be sustainable long after the broadcasts and festival screenings of our film have runtheir course.As Goes Janesville, a film by Brad Lichtenstein, is a co-production of 371 Productions, Kartemquin Films, and theIndependent Television Service.

Issue: Economy


Reel Economy


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  • Independent Film Quarterly Film & Webisode Festival 2012 - Official Selection
  • Kansas International Film Festival - Official Selection
  • Milwaukee Film Festival 2012 - Official Selection
  • Oregon Independent Film Festival 2012 - Best Documentary
  • Stranger Than Fiction International - Official Selection

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