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The Globalization Tapes

Vision Machine Film Project

Indonesia, 2003
70 minutes, Colour, sound
Available formats: DVD / Digibeta tape / SD Digital file

The Globalisation Tapes: a 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 liberalization: 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. Through chilling first-hand accounts, hilarious improvised interventions, collective debate and archival collage, The Globalisation Tapes exposes the devastating role of militarism and repression in building the ‘global economy’, and explores the relationships between trade, third-world debt, and international institutions like the IMF and the World Trade Organization. The film is a densely lyrical and incisive account of how these institutions shape and enforce the corporate world order (and its ‘systems of chaos’).