Independent Lens: As Goes Janesville
Airs Monday, February 4, 2013 at 11 p.m. on KPBS TV
Friday, February 1, 2013
This acclaimed Emmy Award-winning anthology series features documentaries and a limited number of fiction films united by the creative freedom, artistic achievement and unflinching visions of their independent producers. INDEPENDENT LENS features unforgettable stories about a unique individual, community or moment in history. The series is supported by interactive companion websites and national publicity and community engagement campaigns. Acclaimed actor and filmmaker Stanley Tucci hosts the series.
In Pictures: Janesville’s Industrial Rollercoaster
In "As Goes Janesville," when the General Motors plant in Janesville, Wisconsin closed for good in 2008, the town found itself in the midst of an identity crisis. View a pictorial history of some of Janesville’s bygone industries.
“As Goes Janesville” catapults viewers to the front lines of America’s debate over the future of its middle class — a debate that has become a pitched battle over unions in the normally tranquil state of Wisconsin.
First, in 2008, General Motors shuts down Janesville’s century-old plant, causing mass layoffs and exiling residents who must leave in search of work.
Then newly elected governor Scott Walker ignites a firestorm by introducing a bill to end collective bargaining, unleashing a fury of protest and sparking a recall election.
Spend three years in the lives of laid-off workers trying to reinvent themselves; business leaders aligned with the governor to promote a pro-business agenda they believe will woo new companies to town; and a state senator caught in the middle, trying to bring peace to his warring state and protect workers’ rights.
As goes Janesville, so goes America, a polarized nation losing its grasp on the American Dream. Directed by Brad Lichtenstein.
Long before the rest of America discovered Janesville, I learned about this small city in southern Wisconsin, my wife’s hometown. Shortly after their GM plant shut down in December, 2008, I started making "As Goes Janesville."
For three years, I followed a disparate group of people who span the gamut, from business and political leaders to laid-off workers, in order to tell an intimate story about how a community tries to reinvent itself during economic crisis.
Janesville is a true microcosm of America; good people trying in different ways to solve their economic problems during polarizing times.
I hope "As Goes Janesville" can provoke dialogue that unites people across ideological and political boundaries, so they might rediscover all they have in common and work together to improve the economic health of their communities. - Brad Lichtenstein (Producer/Director)