Saturday, May 05, 2007


Title: Fired!
Distributor: Shout! Factory / Sundance Channel
Director: Chris Bradley, Kyle La Brache
Producer, Writer, Principal Actor: Annabelle Gurwitch
Date: 2007
Length: 71 min.
No rating (would suggest PG-13)
Technical: Digital Video, 1.66: 1

This little movie was screened at The Avalon right after the DC Filmfest. It starts with a Woody Allen lecturing Annabelle and firing her from a play, and even talking (when mentioning agents) like she could be blackballed. The movie then becomes a somewhat meandering exposition about firings, terminations and layoffs in America. At one point, the film mentions “The Ax,” which is the name of a French thriller (“Le couperet) about a laid-off executive.

Now terminations can be for cause, or (under most state laws) at will, for no reason. They cannot occur for illegal reasons. Most jobs are lost because of downsizings and “layoffs”, or even corporate bankruptcies or offshoring. Typically, with white collar positions, however, the hit list is based on a combination of job performance and office politics rather than seniority, so in a sense a white collar layoff is a “firing.”

The film goes through a long recitation of brief accounts of all kinds of job losses, many of them blue collar, one a coat checker fired after only four hours on the job. Then it presents a typical outplacement firm for white collar workers, Right Management. This is the firm I had when I was laid off and “retired” at the end of 2001.

The film also presents the issue of people fired for off-duty behavior, specifically, nicotine use (usually, cigarette smoking) at Weyco in Michigan, and attempts to change Michigan law to forbid the practice. One Human Resources person admits that his job is to be chummy with employees so he can report them to management!

Finally, the film presents some interviews with politicians, especially Robert Reich, former Labor Secretary in the Clinton Administration. The idea that corporate America has “raided” the middle class with scandals and bankruptcies and lucrative settlements for executives is presented.

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