Globalisation Tapes. The
(Film/Video, Ind Plantation Workers Union of Sumatra et at, March 2003)
Produced collectively by the Independent Plantation Workers' Union of Sumatra. This beautifully shot and humorous film uses Western commercials, role play, and interviews to analyse the dehumanising impact of neo-liberal economics on millions of Indonesians. (from £6.00)
The Globalisation Tapes: a collaboration between the Independent Plantation Workers' Union of Sumatra (Indonesia), the International Union of Food and Agricultural Workers (IUF), and Vision Machine Film Project.
Sharman Sinaga's granddaughter looks bored as her grandfather demonstrates for the camera his favored technique of market liberalization: holding union activists upside down in flooded fields. He mimics their gargles as they choke in the mud. He could hold down two or three at a time he boasts; he seems faintly nostalgic in the dim light and the smoke; his only regret, that his arms and knees aren't what they used to be.
The orders to hold people upside-down came from the top, he tells us, from Surhato; they came also with support from high on Capitol Hill.
The Globalisation Tapes were made in collaboration with those a little further down the pile, closer to the mud (and the rubber and the oil), closer to the memories of the massacre that cleared the way for Indonesia's 'modernisation'.
Using their own forbidden history as a case study, the Indonesian filmmakers trace the development of contemporary globalisation from its roots in colonialism to the present. Through chilling first-hand accounts, hilarious improvised interventions, collective debate and archival collage, The Globalisation Tapes exposes the devastating role of militarism and repression in building the "global economy", and explores the relationships between trade, third-world debt, and international institutions like the IMF and the World Trade Organization. The film is a densely lyrical and incisive account of how these institutions shape and enforce the corporate world order (and its 'systems of chaos').
Plantation workers spontaneously stage a satirical commercial for the pesticide that poisons them; the filmmakers pose as World Bank agents with offers to 'develop' local businesses - offers which are both brutal and absurd, yet, tempting, nonetheless. The Globalisation Tapes is a testament to the intelligence, humour, integrity and creativity of its makers and their community.
It is not only inspirational, but also instructive. The film illustrates the kind of training that is needed if unions are to build an international movement to fight corporate globalisation from the grassroots.
The story isn't told by experts, but by union members from palm oil plantations in Indonesia. This film was made possible by their energy, insight and dedication.
"If we are united in our struggle against worker oppression, united in our search for truth amidst lies, united for a truly participatory democratic economic system, the possibilities are only limited by our courage, our determination, and our capacity to imagine."
- Su Karman, narrator of The Globalisation Tapes and President of Perbbuni, the Independent Plantation Workers' Union of Sumatra.
REVIEW FROM 'TIME OUT, 30 June 2003
The Globalisation Tapes (Independent Plantation Workers Union of Sumatra/IUF/Vision Machine Film Project) Doc. 71 mins.
Seemingly inexorably, the corporate pillage of the planet continues apacebut so, thankfully, does the protest, not least amongst Indonesias exportplantations, the focus of this extraordinary DV document devised, writtenand produced collectively by the seriously-informed members of theIndependent union, Perbbuni. The film deploys Godardian text graphics,reappropriation of Western commercials, role play, and interviews to analysethe devastating impact of neo-liberal economics on millions. In Indonesia¬Ļscase, this has unfolded against the legacy of Suharto¬Ļs genocidal US-backeddictatorship (an on-screen interview with a former death squad member isrevelatory in its depiction of mundane evil). Marking a major leap forwardin activist image-making, the film is a truly radical, always accessible,and often beautiful call to think globally but act locally.
Running time 1 Hour 11 Minutes