Oppenheimer’s 2006 documentary exposes the devastating role of militarism and repression in building the ‘global economy’.
Through chilling first-hand accounts, hilarious improvised interventions, collective debate and archival collage, The Globalisation Tapes is a densely lyrical and incisive account of how these institutions shape and enforce the corporate world order (and its ‘systems of chaos’). Exploring the relationships between trade, third-world debt, and international institutions like the IMF and the World Trade Organization, it was made in collaboration between the Independent Plantation Workers’ Union of Sumatra (Indonesia), the International Union of Food and Agricultural Workers (IUF), and Vision Machine Film Project.
Sharman Sinaga’s granddaughter looks bored as her grandfather demonstrates for the camera his favored technique of market liberalisation: holding union activists upside down in flooded fields. He mimics their gargles as they choke in the mud. He could hold down two or three at a time he boasts; he seems faintly nostalgic in the dim light and the smoke; his only regret, that his arms and knees aren’t what they used to be.The orders to hold people upside-down came from the top, he tells us, from Surhato; they came also with support from high on Capitol Hill. The Globalisation Tapes were made in collaboration with those a little further down the pile, closer to the mud (and the rubber and the oil), closer to the memories of the massacre that cleared the way for Indonesia’s ‘modernisation’. Using their own forbidden history as a case study, the Indonesian filmmakers trace the development of contemporary globalisation from its roots in colonialism to the present.
“Seemingly inexorably, the corporate pillage of the planet continues apace but so, thankfully, does the protest, not least amongst Indonesia’s export plantations, the focus of this extraordinary DV document devised, written and produced collectively by the seriously-informed members of the Independent union, Perbbuni. The film deploys Godardian text graphics, reappropriation of Western commercials, role-play, and interviews to analyse the devastating impact of neo-liberal economics on millions. In Indonesia’s case, this has unfolded against the legacy of Suharto’s genocidal US-backed dictatorship (an on-screen interview with a former death squad member is revelatory in its depiction of mundane evil). Marking a major leap forward in activist image-making, the film is a truly radical, always accessible, and often beautiful call to think globally but act locally.’” Time Out, 2004
Joshua Oppenheimer, Indonesia, 2003, 70 minutes (produced with Christine Cynn)
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