February 18, 2004  
Volume 97, Issue 77  

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Free Trade is Killing My Mother: a documentary

By Graham Thomas
Gazette Writer

With a Starbucks coffee in one hand and the anti-globalization bible No Logo in the other, Toronto journalist and filmmaker Jamie Kastner set out to join the protest at the Summit of the Americas in spring 2001.

Embarking on the drive from Toronto to Quebec City with his friend Guy O’Sullivan, Free Trade Is Killing My Mother follows these “revolutionary-virgins” as they think about the “carnival against capitalism.” During the drive, they converse over the infectious roaring of their “heartbeat of America” Chrysler and the terrible road-noise caused by their Firestone Firehawk PV41’s — both of which qualify as multinational companies.

The documentary captures the hardships, sacrifices and intentions of all the Summit of the Americas protestors. In pursuit of accomplishing such a task, Kastner and crew essentially eat, sleep and bleed protesting for their few days in Quebec City to offer a view of the demonstrators’ plight.

Kastner accomplishes this goal surprisingly well, sleeping in designated shelter areas, showering amongst “comrades” and even enduring the pain of tear gas for his cause. This documentary is fairly straightforward, steering clear of a great deal of bias, but it seems inevitable in avoiding the stereotype of “hippy” protestors.

Referred to as “anarchists, pseudo-Marxists and new age troublemakers,” the demonstrators show no concern for the country, state or even themselves. Shrugging off six-figure expenses incurred by the provincial government because of such a demonstration, one enthused protestor proclaimed, “It’s a blast man, it’s a trip.”

Kastner wraps things up by rehashing the concerns of protestors in comparison to the opposition, and citing the concerns and considerations of involved non-political symbols such as Naomi Klein (author of No Logo).

One particular protestor’s comment stood out amongst the rest, proclaiming the solution to the root of the problem: “If everybody in the world was like all these people here, we’d have no reason to protest, no reason for poverty, no reason for taxes, no reason for people not getting education they rightfully deserve.”

Didn’t Stalin already try that in the ’30s?

Free Trade Is Killing My Mother airs tonight at 10 p.m. on TVO.



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