In normal circumstances, you would be hard-pressed to find something in common between a small-farmer in Kansas. an ex-convict in Ohio, and a former mortgage administrator in Florida, apart from their common US citizenship. But in The Disrupted, directed by Sarah Colt and Josh Gleason, the impoverishing effects of globalisation on all walks of life are revealed in intimate detail.
It takes a few minutes to understand what Colt and Gleason’s film is about as the directors segue from small farmer Donn Teke feeding his cows, to Latin-American Peter Velez bidding farewell to his friends and co-workers after they are laid off, and then Uber driver Cheryl Long detailing her frustration as she waits – along with scores of other drivers – in a taxi lot as a gremlin-prone app orders them into a queue for customers.
Slowly it dawns on viewers that these three characters are all struggling to make ends meet in a country with the greatest wealth disparity of any in the industrialised world.
The Disrupted is a film about the logical consequences of a global neo-liberal economic order. As the rich get richer, money and jobs are sucked out of lower levels of society.
Documentary filmmakers have been championing the poor and downtrodden for as long as the genre has existed. What is different about this film is that it squarely takes aim at the beleaguered middle class – whose lives have increasingly been pushed to the margins since the recession of 2008-2009.
Donn is an amiable cigar-chomping farmer who works 900 acres of land in a country that looks like little has changed since Judy Garland got whipped away by a Kansas tornado in 1939. We meet him as he feeds his cows before taking the audience on a trip down memory lane as he displays an ancestor’s notebook on farming in 1889, an antique device for darning socks and other artefacts from the five generations of his family who have worked . . .
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