A Movie for the Movement: Heist: Who Stole The American Dream?

As the Occupy Wall Street movement pushes forward, evolving daily in mission and meaning, its cinematic companion has arrived on the scene. Heist: Who Stole The American Dream? is the latest socially and politically relevant documentary executive produced by Earl Katz, President of Public Interest Pictures. Heist will soon premiere as the fundamental primer on the historical and present-day inequities which gave rise to the Occupy Movement. From its 1930s depiction of Depression Era breadlines to Wisconsin Governor Walker's current assault on Collective Bargaining, Heist tells the story of America in decline due to the excessive greed of corporate executives and politicians bent on destroying the middle class.

From beginning to end, producers/directors Donald Goldmacher and Frances Causey focus on explaining how powerful special interests have worked feverishly since the implementation of Roosevelt's New Deal to derail the protections and rights afforded workers. Via the steady voice of narrator Thom Hartmann and the astute observations of featured experts including Media Matters for America's David Brock, American Airlines former President and Chair Robert Crandall, Maryland Congresswoman Donna Edwards, Pulitzer Prize winning journalist David Cay Johnston, Rebuild the Dream's Van Jones, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and more, Heist meticulously details the myriad assaults perpetrated on America's workers. It is a crash course told in accessible language on the manner in which media, economics and politics have been used by the ruling "one percent" to oppress and devalue the more vulnerable "ninety-nine". Indeed, after just one screening of Heist, 99% of Americans on all sides of the political spectrum should be pushed into action to wrestle their rights and democracy away from those who have collectively robbed them.

Goldmacher and Causey are obvious in their efforts to mobilize the audience to action. Heist isn't merely a recounting of history and atrocity. It's a call to action to rise up against those who've used deregulation, like the repeal of Glass-Steagall and rollbacks on protections, to victimize the masses. It sounds the alarm on the need to restore the Fairness Doctrine, repealed by Ronald Reagan, which led to the current spate of airwave liars and hatemongers. Heist moves us to want to end the media consolidation that allows for predators like Comcast and Rupert Murdoch to monopolize markets, control news and distort truth. It pushes us to safeguard and strengthen unions and workers' rights as Koch funded governors like Wisconsin's Scott Walker and Ohio's John Kasich work to systematically dismantle them. It enrages us as we watch a panel of Human Resources professionals provide training on bypassing American workers in favor of lower wage foreign workers. It enrages us even further when Bill Gates testifies unopposed before Congress on the merits of H1B legislation to import foreign workers under the guise that not enough American workers have the skill to do the jobs.

The film pointedly asks "Who will control the future of the USA? Organized money or organized people?" The filmmakers are pushing for an organized people's movement to reclaim government control. They tell us "if we work together we can create a national strategy to revive our democracy and save our economy." And they tell us "the next steps are up to us."

Now in the final stages of production, as the filmmakers proceed with the arduous but necessary fundraising to bring the film to completion, they have devised a generous plan to offer the film to activists, and they're enthusiastically spreading the word. This past Sunday Executive Producer Earl Katz talked up the film and the activist plan at the inaugural Los Angeles Green Festival. The filmmakers' plan is to provide a twenty or thirty minute motivational version of the film to activists at no charge.

A week earlier, Earl shared with me his rationale for distributing the activist short, along with his personal angst over the corporate abuse of our nation:

"I hope that our film enables and organizes and brings independents and the middle class and tea party people into the Occupy Wall Street movement. We are taught historically the United States economy is predicated on consumer spending. 70% of our economy is driven on consumer spending but the corporations don't do that anymore. They don't believe it anymore. They don't have to do it. They don't need consumer spending in the United States anymore because they now have over 600 million middle class in China and India and more in other exploding third world countries so they don't have to sell to us anymore. We are not needed. They want to make us expendible. Well it's our country. And these multinational corporations do not have any allegiance to our country - none whatsoever. They have allegiance to their bottom line. Period."

On November 5th, director Donald Goldmacher will screen Heist at a teach-in at Occupy Los Angeles.
Photo by Linda Milazzo

In an hour plus time, Occupiers will witness in cinematic form the clear articulation of the Occupy Movement where the ills of American society are made irrevocably clear and the corporate and political monsters are indisputably revealed.

For those in America still asking what fueled the Occupy Movement and what wrongs it wants to right -- well, those questions are easily answered once you've seen the movie Heist.