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Thursday, May 17, 2012

 4:30 PM 

'Divide and conquer' filmmaker offers sneak peek from his full movie


Brad Lichtenstein, the filmmaker who last week released video of Gov. Scott Walker's "divide and conquer" comment, says he had an inkling of what was to come when "people in labor circles" became interested in what he had shot.

He said he screened it at a labor historian conference and at college campuses such as UW-Whitewater and Beloit College before a reporter contacted him about the video.

On Wednesday night, Lichtenstein screened extended clips from his new film "As Goes Janesville" to a packed theater in Milwaukee.

The film follows the stories of three laid off General Motors employees and Sen. Tim Cullen, including the Janesville Dem's stay in Illinois last year as Democrats tried to put off a vote on Walker's collective bargaining changes.

Audience member Ron Taylor, an independent filmmaker, expressed concern over a lack of union voice in the clips. Taylor said he wished Lichtenstein would have spent more time on General Motors and shown less of Walker.

Lichtenstein replied that the film does include instances of the unions coming to the aid of the three former GM employees. Lichtenstein also added he wanted the film to be accessible to people from various political backgrounds.

Although Lichtenstein describes himself as a "small d democrat," he reiterated to his audience his goal to remain nonpartisan. According to the Government Accountability Board's database, he donated $100 to Tom Barrett's 2010 guv campaign.

Lichtenstein said his professional goal of "getting people involved with serious issues like labor and economic justice" came from his time working for Congressman John Lewis, a veteran of the civil rights movement.

A high school guidance counselor who saw that Lichtenstein was miserable in a private, conservative high school environment introduced him to Lewis' campaign staff.

At 15, Lichtenstein met the man he claims had more impact on his life than anyone else.

During Lewis' congressional campaign, Lichtenstein would follow Lewis around to "24-hour grocery stores, laundromats ... and John would tell stories about the civil rights movement."

Lichtenstein and Lewis are currently working together to make a film about race in America. Lichtenstein said the Trayvon Martin case and Milwaukee instances of racial profiling may all be included in the film.

-- By Maggie Schleicher
For WisPolitics.com

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