Sheffield Doc/Fest Review: Factory to the Workers

A picture of the original workers in 2005

The transition from communism to capitalism in the former Soviet Central and Eastern European states was far from smooth. The dissolution of the USSR and the break-up of the Eastern Bloc removed the safety net provided by the state. The vacuum left was usually filled by the unscrupulous and opportunistic individuals, often connected to the previous regimes. Whilst they made their fortunes, life was often much more difficult for the workers.

In Croatia in 2005, the workers in a machine tools factory occupied the building and started to run the company as a collective. They became the first and only example of worker occupation in post-socialist Europe. Factory to the Workers follows the company, over a period of five years, as it moves towards a new model of collective ownership. A decade after the takeover, can this vision survive in an increasingly competitive and global market?

Factory to the Workers is a fascinating behind the scenes look at a different way of doing things. Those in charge have a lot of passion for what they’re doing but do they also have enough nous and guile to compete against multi-national corporations? The outcome is depressingly familiar, but in Srđan Kovačević documentary we’re given a unique insight of the tensions between the workers and supervisors/director. Factory to the Workers is an enthralling and captivating film.

Factory to the Workers screens at Sheffield Doc/Fest.

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