|The Columbia Journal
P.O. Box 2633 MPO,
Vancouver, British Columbia,
Canada V6B 3W8
Volume Ten, Number Two March 2005 www.columbiajournal.ca
The Take: Standing ovation for the workers
Claudia De Simone
It would seem obvious that the stars of the The Take would evoke a standing ovation after the film's screening at the World Social Forum. But as they walked to the front of the room last Saturday evening, people began to cry, while clapping and cheering — a standing ovation like no other. They are role models who exemplified the World Social Forum motto, “Another World is Possible.”
Debora Palomo, Silvia de Los Santos, Lalo Paret and Freddy Espinosa talked about their experiences with taking over an abandoned factory in Zanon, Argentina, where they used to work. The Take, produced by Avi Lewis and Naomi Klein, shows the evolution of the workers' goal to get their jobs back.
“When we were given the key to the factory, we were committed to support another factory,” said Freddy Espinosa, who also thanked the students who passed through the community to give their support. “We didn't commit to any political parties.”
People were also interested to know how these workers became activists.
“I never thought of myself as an activist, but I found myself becoming more involved out of passion for the cause,” said Silvia de Los Santos.
And many in the audience could relate to the workers' experiences — knowing what it feels like to be unemployed. Bárbara Fortes is hosting Freddy Espinosa and his wife Maria during the forum. She's a youth who is unemployed and said she felt inspired by the workers' stories.
“I never heard of workers taking over factories before. It's something that touches me because I'm unemployed right now and it's something that people should follow,” she said. Fortes said factory takeovers are also taking place in São Paolo, Brazil.
The organizers of the WSF film festival, titled “Other Worlds Are Breathing,” said they wanted to show films that made people feel energized to get out and create change.
“We wanted to focus on films that gave a spirit of what's possible. We wanted to show films about people taking action,” said Gargi Sen, who co-curated the event, as she did last year, from New Delhi with Aurélie de Lalande.
There are some practical films, some cultural, some more political ones, said de Lalande. “It was a sort of instinctive selection. We included films that made us say, 'That's the one!' after we watched them.”
And they said the workers' reaction was reassuring.
“The workers' reaction to The Take was beautiful, so emotional. We wanted to have these films act as a catalyst that incited an energizing feeling in those who saw them,” said de Lalande. “Last year people left feeling powerless. A lot of those films were heavy with grim stories.”
Lewis and Klein could not make it to the forum. A friend of Lewis', Erik Paulsson, a documentary filmmaker from Vancouver, saw the film for the third time.
“Seeing this film in the context of the World Social Forum — attended by 100,000 people — makes it so much more different than the other times,” he said. “I've been attending a lot of workshops and am travelling throughout Latin America. What was happening in Argentina can act as a model for factories around the world.”
The real models are the workers. They stayed to chat with audience members outside the cinema, in Spanish and through a translator. They are humble, persevering individuals who show that co-operation and resistance are dreams that can be lived.
Claudia De Simone is on leave of absence from her position as associate editor with rabble.ca.