Now that Janesville has entered the national spotlight thanks to Paul Ryan, the documentary As Goes Janesville shines a new light on the city.
After the GM plant closed in Janesville in 2008, Brad Lichtenstein decided to start a documentary to show how the closing affected the citizens of Janesville. He follows five people representing different perspectives of the city. Three women are former employees of the GM plant, one women works for a bank and is trying to get businesses to come to Janesville, and one is a politician. Little did Brad know when he started making the film that Wisconsin would turn into a political battleground.
The movie does not take sides but shows how each family is struggling. The families go on living and two of the women commute to Fort Wayne, Indiana to the GM plant there and the other one goes back to school for the first time in a long time.
At the same time, politics turn ugly and we get an inside view of Tim Cullen, who was one of the Democratic state senators who left the state in protest of Gov. Scott Walker's repair bill. We also see businesses in Janesville applaud Scott Walker for his efforts to bring jobs back.
What I like about this movie is that it does not take sides. It shows the real lives of Janesville people most affected by the GM closure. The point of the movie is to show that what is most needed in the city, the state and this country is compromise. Neither side is entirely right or wrong but the ability to talk to each other gone.
The trailer caused a little bit of controversy when it came out during the recall election because of a clip of Scott Walker talking about his plan to "divide and conquer" unions. While the movie tries not to take sides I will admit it does not portray the governor in a very positive light. But as far as the subjects of the movie, they all appear to be concerned citizens and trying to do what is right.
I think this is an important movie especially here in Wisconsin and I hope as many people see it as possible. It will premiere on PBS at 9 p.m. Monday, Oct. 8.