The new Netflix documentary AMERICAN FACTORY is funnier than Barbara Kopple’s 1976 Oscar-winning documentary HARLAN COUNTY USA, and not nearly as fraught with violence, but it pivots on many of the same core tensions between workers and corporate bosses. In this half of our pairing of labor struggles past and present, we look back at HARLAN COUNTY to see how the time Kopple’s team spent embedded in Harlan County shaped the film, as well as the 1973 miners strike it depicts; how the film’s style reflects Kopple’s involvement with the Maysles brothers and direct cinema; and which of Harlan County’s colorful residents leave the biggest mark on the film. Plus, we respond to some feedback on recent episodes and go over some of the dozens of suggestions we got for 2019 pairings we received when we recently put the call out on Twitter.
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Outro music: Hazel Dickens, “They’ll Never Keep Us Down”