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Local filmmakers’ documentary premieres on HBO

On Dec. 23, 2008, two days before Christmas, the General Motors assembly plant in Moraine, Ohio shut its doors. As a result, 2,500 workers and 200 management staff were left without jobs, while the closing is also sure to trigger the loss of thousands of related jobs and businesses. But the GM workers lost much more than jobs, including the pride they share in their work and the camaraderie built through the years. To the natives of Moraine and the greater Dayton area, General Motors wasn’t just a car company – it was the lifeblood of the community.

THE LAST TRUCK views the final months of the plant through the workers’ eyes as they reflect on their work and consider their next steps. In revealing interviews with people who considered themselves more family than co-workers, the film reveals the emotional toll of losing not just a job, but a sense of self.

The employees share poignant moments, such as the day every worker must remove his or her toolbox and give up their GM ID card. THE LAST TRUCK closes with footage of the actual “last truck” to be produced at Moraine Assembly.

Among those interviewed in the documentary are: Kathy (body shop) – A 47-year-old mother of three with six grandchildren, Kathy viewed her co-workers as a second family.

Kim (electrician) – A tearful Kim believes that working at the plant was “the greatest job I ever had.” He recounts how everyone finished their work on the line and followed the last truck until all the work had been done. Then they all came together as a big group, a family saying goodbye.

Popeye (toolmaker) – Popeye sees the bigger picture, viewing the plant’s closing as the end of the good life, the end of American manufacturing as we know it. “My grandson will have a worse life than I had,” he says at a nearby bar.

Kate (forklift operator) – After the plant closes, Kate poignantly describes it as a “gentle dragon” taking its last breath before dying.

While the film focuses on Moraine, the plant’s closing reflects profound changes in the American manufacturing landscape as a whole. THE LAST TRUCK bears witness to the experience of job loss and offers a snapshot of a moment that may portend the end of the nation’s blue-collar middle class.

Directors and producers Steven Bognar and Julia Reichert won a Primetime Emmy┬« for their documentary “A Lion in the House,” which followed children fighting cancer for five years. Bognar has shown four films at Sundance, including “Personal Belongings” and “Picture Day.” Reichert has twice been nominated for a Best Feature Documentary Oscar┬«, for “Union Maids” and “Seeing Red.”

THE LAST TRUCK: CLOSING OF A GM PLANT was directed and produced by Steven Bognar and Julia Reichert; edited by Steven Bognar. For HBO: consulting editor, Geof Bartz A.C.E., senior producer, Lisa Heller; executive producer, Sheila Nevins.

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