In the Red
A film by Ana Pecar & Oliver Ressler, 20 min., 2014
In the Red is a film about the Strike Debt group, an offshoot organization of Occupy Wall Street in New York City. The group organizes around debts, an instrument of control and maintenance of economic power. Strike Debt initiates several activities to expose hidden mechanisms of financial capitalism. Similar to Occupy, the movement organizes along affinity groups: The theory group issues a handbook—the Debt Resistors’ Operations Manual—for those attempting to renounce their debt. The action group organizes protests, provides free medical care and information about their activities. The Rolling Jubilee group buys, for very little money, the huge amounts of personal debt the banks have already written off; they then “abolish” the debts and therefore free the debtors from their bills. By this grandiose act, Strike Debt spreads information about how the secondary debt market is working. Few people in the U.S. know that when individuals consistently fail to pay bills from credit cards, loans, or medical insurance, their bank or lender usually sells that debt to a third party. These sales occur for a fraction of the debt’s true value—typically for five cents on the dollar—and debt-buying companies then attempt to recoup the debt from the individual debtor and thus make a profit.
In the Red follows a group of Strike Debt activists over several weeks, engages in intimate conversations with the group revealing the collective decision-making processes. The film explores horizontalism, a social way of organizing that brings out richness and democratic inclusion unavailable in predominately hierarchical structures.
Directors, producers and editors: Ana Pecar & Oliver Ressler
Camera: Ana Pecar
Additional camera: Thomas Parb
Sound design, mix and color correction: Rudolf Gottsberger
Participants: Alex, Ann, Jacques, Laura, Nicky, Ohyoon, Sandy, Sean, Winter
Music: David Backer, Carlos Mandelbaum
Special thanks to Strike Debt – strikedebt.org, Stacy Lanyon, Mike Watson
The project was funded partly through support of The Gallery Apart, Rome and Ministry of Culture Slovenia.
5-min excerpts from the film