Wal-Mart spends $3.8 million every day on advertising, so it’s only fair that the other side of the WAL gets a some public exposure as well. That’s what film producer and director Robert Greenwald intends to do by next November. Greenwald, who has created more than 50 films, most recently “Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch’s War on Journalism,” announced work on a new documentary, “Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price,” which will use a grassroots distribution strategy, and a new media company, Brave New Films, to tell the other side of the giant retailer’s story. Greenwald explained the genesis of the new film: “I met a new neighbor who was a Wal-Mart sales clerk. He worked there full time but could not afford the health care plan they offered. Wait a minute, I thought. This clerk worked full time for a company whose profit was ten BILLION dollars annually, and they did not provide health care? But it got worse. The clerk said that the company had very kindly advised him how to apply for Medicare, so he could get public aid. So taxpayers were paying for Wal-mart employees to get medical care! I really found it hard to believe. I assumed that if it was true, it had to be an isolated incident. So I began some months of research. What I discovered was shocking even to me: Not only were employees of Wal-Mart nationwide routinely directed to apply for Medicare, they were also regularly referred to government programs such as food stamps and Section 8 (subsidized) housing. I was furious and wanted to do something. I knew I had to make a film. Given the millions of dollars Wal-Mart spends on ads telling us what a nice, caring all-American company they are, I did not expect the level of fear and resistance I immediately encountered. Current and former Wal-Mart employees at all levels were terrified that speaking out would cause them grave consequences. So we adopted a quiet, under-the-radar kind of approach in the hopes that Wal-Mart would not begin to attack and pursue people who consulted, advised or appeared on camera for the film. But despite our best efforts at remaining low-profile, the climate of fear at Wal-Mart is very pervasive and made it very very difficult for people to speak with us. Luckily, there are some terrific, committed and caring employees, past and present, who are coming forward with stories that will knock your socks off.” According to Greenwald, his new film will be “a movie about American families and American ideals, a movie about one corporation crushing the American dream for millions of ordinary people — right or left, republican or democrat, red or blue. 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.” Brave New Films will employ a brave, new strategy for getting the film into homes across America. The film will be released using a grassroots network designed to reach a broad audience without letting traditional barriers, gatekeepers and marketing stand in the way. Groups from every political persuasion are coming together to support and distribute WAL-MART — from African-American Ministers in Action to the Petroleum Marketers Association of America, from the National Education Association to the American Independent Business Alliance. “The Wal-Mart story is not a partisan one,” Greenwald concludes, “it truly cuts across all political boundaries to the core issue of fairness and greed. The people I am meeting and talking with, from employees to family business owners to farmers to ministers, have no political ideology in common — just a firm belief that Wal-Mart is not playing fair. The largest corporation in the world can be expected not to act like a schoolyard bully.”
The vision for Brave New Films is to build a network of volunteer field producers, to produce films, television, radio, music, books and blogs outside the corporate system, “building essential media infrastructure for long-term social progress.” Greenwald has invited members of the public to become part of the Wal-Mart film by sending in their own personal stories or videos and how the corporation has affected their life or their community. For more information about the new film, or the production process, go to www.walmartmovie.com. Sprawl-Busters is an endorsing group of this Brave New Film production.