News & Politics

Creating Change, Not Just Movies

Can a documentary force Wal-Mart to change its wicked ways? Only with your help, says filmmaker Robert Greenwald.
Editor's Note: Dozens of people responded to a recent article about the upcoming release of Robert Greenwald's expose of Wal-Mart. While some said they were glad the film was being made, they expressed doubt that any movie could change an entity as powerful as Wal-Mart. Greenwald asked if he could address their concerns.

I was pleased to read the vigorous exchange set off by AlterNet's recent story about Wal-Mart and the film I am making. I wanted to weigh in with some observations.

I am in complete agreement with those who say a film will not change Wal-Mart. It won't: You will change Wal-Mart.

Let me explain. We at Brave New Films have consciously chosen a different model to make and distribute films, in order to create change, not just movies. If you go to our website, you will find, six months in advance of the film's release, a list of groups, churchs, students, teachers, ministers, etc., that we have enlisted to act as a kind of Warner Bros. Studios for the movie.

We are avoiding the traditional (and most financially lucrative) path of releasing the movie in theaters, charging $10, releasing to cable and finally to DVD. Instead, we are committed to having you be the ones who get the movie into your home, your school, your work place, your synagogue and interacting with those you invite.

Let's face it: how many of us are willing to pay $10 to see a documentary we may not agree with? Not many. But, if a friend, family member, colleague, church member, teacher, invites us to see a film, for free, in the company of others, that's a big difference -- and an important way we can move beyond the proverbial "preaching to the choir" syndrome.

We are looking to AlterNet readers, and thousands of others, to host the screenings and to use the film as a tool. How many times have you wished you could come up with the perfect argument to convince a friend? Isn't it easier to slip them a movie after they come home with 15 bags of stuff from Wal-Mart?

There will be material for discussion following the film, there will be campaigns around the film, all designed to create change; in short, a diverse coalition of folks working hard to build a movement. You can sign up here to host a screening; the only financial commitment is $10 to buy one DVD.

The same do-it-yourself philosophy is behind the making of our film. The folks at Brave New Films are working seven days a week and many long hours to get the film made. But still, we need your help in some important areas:

  • A new title. Our current working title, "Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price" not only doesn't sound like a movie title, it doesn't debunk Wal-Mart the way Outfoxed did. Linguist George Lakoff has pointed out that some people will only remember the ending: "low price"! So we invite you to visit my blog and help name our film.


  • Contribute your photos and video. We need a visual record of the Wal-Martization of America: the closed-up stores, shops and streets; the images of communities around the country that are fighting Wal-Mart.

  • There are hundreds of empty Wal-Marts across the country. Send us your photographs of abandoned Wal-Marts.


We are creating a special network of field producers who are serving a variety of critical functions in the making and distribution of the film; emailing friends, handing out flyers, distributing DVDs, hosting screenings and a dozen other things that will help us succeed in the battle against Wal-Mart. Visit Brave New Films and sign up to join us. Then you can tell your family, your friends, your sweetheart, that you, too, are a film producer.
Robert Greenwald is the director/producer of "Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch's War on Journalism," as well as many other films. He is a board member of the Independent Media Institute, AlterNet's parent organization.
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