“We don’t make anything in this country anymore. If they closed the ports, we’d be naked and barefoot.”
- Shirley Reinhardt, former GE worker, Morristown, TN
The quote comes from a new documentary about Morristown and immigration, currently making the rounds at festivals and is also now available on DVD. Filmmaker Anne Lewis spent years on the project, which examines how immigration has changed the city and the city has changed the immigrants.
Lewis began her career as an associate director on the Oscar-winning "Harlan County U.S.A." and has been actively exploriing the lives and the worlds of working men and women ever since. Some info about her is here and here, where she explains her creative vision as a documentary filmmaker.
The movie, "Morristown" is described as:
"Working-class people in Mexico and eastern Tenessee are caught in the throes of massive economic change, which challenges their assumptions about work, family, nation and community. This film chronicles nearly a decade of change in Morristown, Tennessee through interviews with displaced or low-wage Southern workers, Mexican immigrants, and workers and families impacted by globalization."
A short clip can seen here via the Austin, TX university website.
The movie was made with the assistance from both the Highlander Center (where you can order a DVD copy of "Morristown Video Letters", an early spin off of the project) in New Market, TN and the Appalshop in Kentucky, where you can pre-order copies of the movie and should have them available for sale in the very near future. Thanks to Anne for the details about the availability of her film.
Part of the movie examines the recent efforts of workers at the Koch Foods chicken processing plant to form a union. Workers overwhelming approved the move to unionize and cameras take you into the plant to witness working conditions there.
And while the movie hasn't gotten much attention in Tennesssee, audiences from Albuquerque to Minnesota are watching the story unfold.
(photo taken from the movie, shows Alfredo and Silvia Perez and their children in Juarez, Mexico)