In the wake of the country's 2001 economic collapse, unemployed Argentinian factory workers rewrite the rules of engagement with bosses and come up with a new model for social battle in "The Take." Video, fest and specialized tube slots beckon, with minor niche theatrical prospects possible.

In the wake of the country’s 2001 economic collapse, unemployed Argentinian factory workers rewrite the rules of engagement with bosses and come up with a new model for social battle in “The Take.” Verite political docu by Canadian TV journo Avi Lewis and Naomi Klein makes its points effectively, but could have benefited from a burst of creativity. Video, fest and specialized tube slots beckon, with minor niche theatrical prospects possible.

Shot over eight months with help from a group of activists, docu chronicles how the millions of casualties of Argentina’s brutal free-market policies have started to form co-ops and take over idle, rusting factories to make them productive again. Pic reps a fascinating piece of political filmmaking, despite being hampered by a flat made-for-TV feel.

“The Take” comprises material shot by non-professional crews showing workers from several factories. Their slogan is “Occupy. Resist. Produce.” The struggle is starting to bear fruit, as some 200 factories have been taken over and collaboration among them is beginning to generate an embryonic alternative economy.

Freddy Espinoza, leader of the small Forja factory worker’s co-op outside Buenos Aires, fights with a local bankruptcy court to obtain the auto parts plant instead of severance pay. As a first step he gets permission to enter the plant with his co-workers to make surethe machines haven’t been sold off as scrap metal. Freddy then strikes a deal with a tractor factory, where the assembly line is humming, to supply it with parts.

Whereas wronged workers traditionally withhold work and go on strike, these people insist on working — a new way of fighting the increasing threat of factory relocations caused by the global economy.

Although, given what it sets out to do, “The Take” can hardly be blamed for being didactic, stilted voiceover and use of strings and dramatic piano music to enhance emotional moments give it an unoriginal feel. That said, tunes by French world-music outfit Gotan Project and etno-singer Lhasa are nicely laced-in.

Given the multi-tasking, pic is unsurprisingly rough. Nonetheless, several montages prove Lewis has some flourish.

The Take

Canada

Production

A Barna-Alper Prods., Klein Lewis Prods. co-production with National Film Board of Canada in association with Canadian Broadcasting Corp. (International sales: Celluloid Dreams, Paris.). Produced by Avi Lewis, Naomi Klein. Executive producer, Laszlo Barna. Co-producer, Katie McKenna. Directed by Avi Lewis. Written by Naomi Klein.

Crew

Camera (color, DV-to-35mm), Mark Ellam; editor, Ricardo Acosta; music, David Wall; sound, Jason Milligan. Reviewed at Venice Film Festival (Cinema Digitale), Sept. 6, 2004. Running time: 83 MIN.

With

Narrators: Avi Lewis, Naomi Klein. (Spanish and English dialogue.)
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