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HBO premieres GM Documentary in Dayton


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HBO, in association with FilmDayton and Wright State University will premiere the  moving documentary  The Last Truck — The Closing of a GM Plant on Wed, Aug 19th at the Schuster Performing Arts Center.

For months, Yellow Springs filmmakers Julia Reichert and Steven Bognar followed GM workers and Moraine citizens as the community steeled itself for the Dec. 23, 2008, closing of GM’s SUV assembly plant between Ohio 741 and Kettering Boulevard.

With up to 15 crew members, filmmakers interviewed workers in taverns and outside plant gates as more than 1,000 hourly and salaried employees worked toward the plant’s end of production.

Reichert and Bognar started covering workers and their evolving reaction to the plant’s fate in early June 2008, when Rick Wagoner, former GM chief executive, named GM-Moraine as one of four North American truck plants to close by 2010.

Within hours, the filmmakers were gauging reactions in The Upper Deck, a bar a stone’s throw from the plant.

“There was a huge period of adjustment — grief and anger,” Bognar recalled.

“Loss of a job is not just loss of income,” Reichert said. “It’s loss of your identity, part of your identity.”

Reichert and Bognar are well known in the Dayton area — Reichert teaches at Wright State University and Bognar is an artist in residence at the Ohio Arts Council.

They are perhaps best known nationally for their Emmy Award winning “A Lion in the House,” a look at families fighting childhood cancer.

The couple agree that HBO — which rejected an early version of “Lion” years ago — will give the 30- to 40-minute GM-Moraine film wide exposure, perhaps the widest of their careers.

And the work will find its way to DVD, they said.

They started working with HBO last summer, sending off unedited drafts and raw footage. When HBO expressed a desire to show the work on Labor Day 2009, they were thrilled.

“What better day to put it on in the whole year?” Reichert said.

“That was the big freak-out moment for us,” Bognar said with a grin.

A look at several minutes of an early version of the film shows workers thinking back on what the plant meant to them.

Wide shots of a rail yard lot full of SUVs during a December snowstorm open the film.

Said Bognar, “The heart of this film is really what the people went through.”

And, what was the “last truck” produced by GM-Moraine? A white GMC Envoy, which workers can be seen in the film autographing and photographing with cell phones.

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One Response to “HBO premieres GM Documentary in Dayton”

  1. Lyric Rillera says:

    How do we get tickets to go see the premier of The Last Truck Documentary on August 18th?