Wal-Mart, in all its quirky, cultish splendor, is revealed in a new independent film blowing out of Toronto, Canada like a chilling breeze through Bentonville, Arkansas. The film “Wal-Mart Nation” was aired for the first time on November 13th on the Canadian Broadcast Corportation (CBC) show called “The Lens.” The show features emerging independent filmmakers, like Andrew Munger, who spent more than two years putting this one hour film together. Munger says he set out to answer one basic question: “How did the world’s most powerful and influential company become the most hated?” It’s almost a rhetorical question, but Munger managed to get access into Wal-Mart itself and the “inner sanctuaries of its bitterest enemies,” including the living room of Sprawl-Buster Al Norman. The promo for the film says it stars six union activists, 1 jesuit priest, 3 community organizers, 18,000 Wal-Mart shareholders, Jessica Simpson (in a horrid appearance at the company’s annual meeting), and Miss America. In its review of the film, CBC writes, “Wal-Mart’s emergence as a global corporate force has triggered an unprecedented political backlash. Wal-Mart has single-handedly galvanized a progressive, grass roots and labor coalition of activists determined to roll back the tide of corporate power and domination. This is a generation baptized by the anti-globalization protests. This is the Wal-Mart Nation. These are their stories.” The film profiles a former Miss America (1992), Carolyn Sapp, who transcends her Reagan Republicanism and anti-abortion world to found Wal-Mart Versus Women, to speak out about the Dukes V. Wal-Mart class action suit based on gender discrimination. The film highlights the work of Anna Liu, a 23 year old, Chinese Canadian union activist determined to unionize Canadian Wal-Mart workers. Anna penetrates Canadian Wal-Mart stores passing out fliers about joining the union. Other vignettes in the film include an interview with the founder of Sprawl-Busters Al Norman, who the CBC calls “the dean of anti-Wal-Mart activists.” Environmentalist Ben Bennett’s ten year battle with Wal-Mart in Guelph, Ontario is also featured, along with the work of Chris Kofinis, the Communications Director for Wake-Up Wal-Mart. “Through interviews, animation and actuality sequences, the filmmakers explore the Wal-Mart Effect and how the company has transformed the economy of the United States and the world,” the CBC says. This week the top brass at Wal-Mart are thinking up talking points for coping with media calls about what how to respond to Wal-Mart Nation. This film demonstrates that the best way to fight Wal-Mart is to simply film them in their unnatural environment.
This film was first shown at the Montreal World Film Festival. It’s release comes at a time when Wal-Mart is beginning to methodically shut down the “old” Woolco stores they bought up in the 1990s, and replace them with the much larger, and much more profitable American-style supercenters. Ironically, activists in the city of Toronto are in the middle of a Wal-Mart site fight currently. The CBC describes Wal-Mart Nation as “a first person journey through a year in life of the anti-Wal-Mart movement. The filmmakers blend actuality footage, interviews, archival film and photos, text and graphics in a provocative, engaging and often-humourous point of view documentary.” The movie was produced by Ultramagnetic Productions, a boutique documentary production company based in Toronto. It was directed by Andrew Munger in association with CBC Newsworld. To see a trailer of the film, or to order a copy to show in your community, go to www.walmarnation.com. To contact the director, email [email protected] This film joins the oeuvre of anti-Wal-Mart films like “The High Cost of Low Prices,” “Our Town,” “Talking to the Wal,” and “Store Wars.” All of these fine, wholesome films can be linked from the sprawl-busters.com website.