Divided We Fall 2016
Distributed by Twelfth House Films
Directed by Katherine M. Acosta
DVD , color, 88 min.
Activism, Constitutional Rights, Democracy, Government, Legislation, Political Science, Politics, Protest Movements, Sociology, Teachers
Date Entered: 11/15/2017Reviewed by Linda Frederiksen, Washington State University, Vancouver, WA
As one of his first acts in office, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker proposed a Budget Repair Bill that had immediate and far-reaching repercussions. Act 10 both reduced benefits and severely curtailed collective bargaining rights for most public employees. In response, and as the bill moved through committees and both houses of the Republican-dominated legislature, tens of thousands of protesters converged on the capitol during the winter of 2011. In addition to large public demonstrations in the streets of Madison, protesters occupied the state capitol building for 17 days. According to the filmmaker, the Wisconsin Uprising is the largest sustained protest in US history.
The film effectively chronicles these exhilarating events, as well as those that followed. By combining the documentarian’s own footage with television coverage and interviews with those directly involved, viewers get a real sense of political history as it unfolded. Although the nonviolent but leaderless protest ultimately failed, commentary from participants about how and why that happened are insightful, particularly for those who study how political movements of this kind are organized. In retrospect, Wisconsin in 2011 can be seen an unheeded warning sign for the presidential election five years later. An extended interview with Katherine Cramer, author of The Politics of Resentment (2016), is included as a bonus feature and provides further background on how the birthplace of public-employee unions became a right-to-work state.