The Big Sellout

What happens when supplies of water, energy, public transporation and health care are privatized? A German documentary film, “The Big Sellout,” takes on this challenge by portraying the everyday consequences of privatized services. Director Florian Opitz shows how privatization looks and feels to a British train driver, a Philippine mother, a South African activist and the citizens of a Bolivian city.

The Philippine mother, Minda, “is struggling to find money for the dialysis her son needs twice a week because Philippine health care has been largely privatized and the poor don’t have access to it anymore. Bongani and his team of ‘electro-guerillas’ roam their South African township and illegally restore electricity to homes of people too poor to pay their bills to the to be privatized supplier. And Simon humorously relates his adventures as a train driver, first for British Rail, and then for countless other firms that come and go with a regularity that has long disappeared from the train schedule.”

The film also tells the story of the citizens of Cochabamba, Bolivia, fighting the American corporation Bechtel, which tried to control the municipal water supply. For commentary, we hear from Nobel Prize winner Joseph Stiglitz, once chief economist for the World Bank and now a critic of neoliberal global trade. You can view the film trailer here and information about ordering a DVD can be found here.