Contemporary World Cinema | 2016 | 92 minutes
Stranger Says: When an Italian textile plant changes owners, the fate of the workers falls to 11 female employees who must decide what to make of a seemingly innocuous request by their new bosses. (The title is a clue.) Based on a play, this material probably worked better on the stage, as the scenes set outside the conference room tend to dilute the momentum of the central conflict. Still, there’s a lot to like here, especially in how quickly the script and cast firmly establish the impressively diverse range of personalities. The post-movie conversations should be good. (ANDREW WRIGHT)
SIFF Says:Workers’ compensation, generational rivalries, and dignity of the human spirit weave together in this compelling drama about 11 female factory workers tasked with deciding their own fate and torn between two choices that may, in the long run, offer the same outcome. Michele Placido’s fact-based story tells of a longstanding Italian textile mill sold to a French conglomerate, a new ownership that asks the workers to sacrifice seven minutes of their break time to keep the factory open. But when sage Bianca, the 60-year-old elected leader of the workers’ council, realizes that seven minutes from each worker equals 900 hours of free labor a month, they risk losing much more than next month’s paychecks. These 11 women span a 40-year age gap and various citizenship statuses and beliefs, but all must find common ground in their plight as low-wage workers amid a crumbling macro-economy beset with corporate greed. Their grip upon solidarity is the only way to steel themselves in a storm of personal and national socioeconomic pressures, making for a poignant film in Europe’s broader political climate.
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