Seven films that help us understand globalization

The world we live in is so fast-moving that it gets difficult to stop and stare in order to understand the main phenomenon which defines it: globalization. The seven films below offer some perspectives on the big topics of our era, such as intensive cultural exchange, political conflicts, excessive consumerism and the environmental risks of a globalized world.

Global Player by Hannes Stöhr (2013, Germany)

Available from 28 November as part of our Award Winning Dramas collection

The film, which stars Christoph Bach, Walter Schultheiß and Inka Friedrich, explores the family-run company of solid textile machines Bogenschuetz & Sons as it’s being threatened by Asian competitors, which offer way cheaper products. Without Paul, the father, knowing it, the rest of the family will have to rescue his life’s work in a small city in southern Germany. The giant Asian market goes up against a small local business which has been working for generations, a David vs. Goliath classical story updated for the era of globalization.

Population Boom by Werner Boote (2013, Austria)

Available since May as part of the Docs from around the worldcollection

The Earth's population is about to reach seven billion, and that leads to the inescapable question of whether dwindling resources, toxic waste, hunger and climate change are the results of overpopulation. But how do we define overpopulation? After the box-office success of his documentary Plastic Planet, Werner Boote travels the globe and examines a stubborn view of the world that has existed for decades and wonders about the reality of the catastrophic interpretation of contemporary demography.

As Time Goes by in Shanghai by Uli Gaulke (2013, Germany)

Available since May as part of the Docs from around the world collection

From the Japanese occupation and the Cultural Revolution to capitalism, a small and humble Peace Old Jazz Band share their views on the many cultural faces China has had since the group began performing in the 1940s. The way they have seen the world transform couldn’t knock their passion for jazz. In this documentary, Uli Gaulke tells the story of an old Chinese band that travel to the Netherlands to share a talent they couldn’t even imagine and which holds the potential to be incredibly successful on the other side of the world.

Discount by Julien Petit (2014, France)

This successful French film portrays the workers of a Hard-Discount supermarket as they mutiny against being replaced by automatic machines. They strive to create a parallel supermarket based on a solidarity economy, which clashes with the logic of capitalist department stores, with more affordable prices, taking advantage of expiration dates. They will explore on a small scale the dynamics of capitalist business and will have to defy greed.

Merci Patron! by François Ruffin (2016, France)

Offshoring is a very typical phenomenon in a globalized world. Especially in Europe, where many factories leave for other countries to find cheaper workers. This leaves a hole in the European economy and that’s just what François Ruffin dealt with in this documentary. It stars Jocelyn and Serge Klur, former workers at a factory that manufactured clothes for the luxury goods brand Kenzo (part of the LVMH group). The factory moved to Poland and left the couple unemployed, struggling with debt, and at risk of being evicted.

The Light Bulb Conspiracy by Cosima Dannoritzer (2010, Spain, France)

In The Light Bulb Conspiracy, Cosima Dannoritzer travels to France, Germany, Spain and the US to find witnesses to a business practice that has been determining the consumption cycle since 1920 and is now the basis of the modern economy. This TV documentary explores the untold story of planned obsolescence and the cartel that has been setting up the lifespan of technological devices in order to dynamize the economy, leaving disquieting pictures from Africa where discarded electronics are piling up in huge cemeteries for electronic waste.

War Photographer by Christian Frei (2001, Switzerland)

Christian Frei’s documentary tells the story of the 20-year career of the photojournalist James Nachtwey, who has been visiting war-torn countries such as Kosovo, Indonesia, Palestine and Rwanda, capturing the desolation of war on film. The cynicism of war-journalism, exposure of the victims and politicized content are only some of the topics that this touching film explores. This is Frei’s best-known film, which gained him a Peabody Award.

24 November 2016, by Cineuropa