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Big Sellout, The (Grosse Ausverkauf, Der)

Big Sellout, The
Scene from "The Big Sellout" (photo © 2006 Discofilm)

Privatization – for Minda in Manila, Bongani in Soweto and Simon in Brighton, this is a more than abstract notion. It is the life-threatening reality they deal with every day. In this episodic documentary, Florian Opitz examines the consequences of privatization – often forced by institutions such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund – on real individuals in various parts of the world. Minda, for instance, is struggling to find money for the dialysis her son needs twice a week because Philippine health care has been largely privatized and the poor don't have access to it anymore.. Bongani and his team of "electro-guerillas" roam their South African township and illegally restore electricity to homes of people too poor to pay their bills to the now privatized supplier. And Simon humorously relates his adventures as a train driver, first for British Rail, and then for countless other firms that come and go with a regularity that has long disappeared from the train schedule. The victory of the citizens of Cochabamba, Bolivia, against a mighty US corporation that tried to control the municipal water supply adds a note of hope to the film. The interwoven storylines are contrasted with interviews with "the other side," those responsible for the privatizations and with comments by Nobel Prize winner Joseph Stiglitz, who left the ranks of the doers to fight for the losers.

The Big Sellout is the compelling portrayal of a complex subject. It brings home the conflicting message of privatization through the gripping portrayal of human beings around the world directly affected by these often inhuman and misguided efforts to boost economic growth.
Genre Society
Category Documentary
Year of Production 2006
Director Florian Opitz
Cinematography Andy Lehmann
Niko Remus
Producers Felix Blum, Arne Ludwig
Production Company Discofilm/Cologne, in cooperation with ARTE, Bayerischer Rundfunk
Length 94 min
Format color
Original Version
 English
Sound Technology Dolby Stereo
Festivals Hof 2006, Goeteborg 2007, Istanbul 2007, Hot Docs Toronto 2007, Nyon 2007, Shanghai 2007, Rio 2007, Vancouver 2007, Sevilla 2007
With backing from Film- und Medienstiftung NRW

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