Review: ‘Company Town’ takes aim at factory owners in Arkansas
Paper products titan Georgia-Pacific and its owners, Koch Industries, are taken to the proverbial woodshed in the trenchant, disturbing documentary “Company Town.”
This powerful film, directed by Natalie Kottke-Masocco, who co-wrote with co-director Erica Sardarian, contends that an unusually high percentage of residents of tiny Crossett, Ark., the longtime home to a giant Georgia-Pacific factory, have contracted often-fatal cancers and other illnesses, allegedly as a result of the plant’s emissions and waste removal systems.
But proving this, much less forcing any corporate or federal action to mitigate the crisis, has been a Sisyphean task for the folks of Crossett. They’re led in their struggle by Baptist minister David Bouie who, like many of the citizens stirringly interviewed here, including a brave whistleblower, is a onetime employee of Georgia-Pacific. And therein lies the rub: So many locals have been beholden to this monolith for their livelihoods.
The film, shot from 2011-15, follows the efforts of Bouie, Cheryl Slavant, scientists and others to engage the regional staff of the Environmental Protection Agency in their fight against Georgia-Pacific. But the results are limited — and the troubles still ongoing.
Although the movie, also featuring input from progressive activist-author and CNN regular Van Jones, could use some second-half tightening and a bit more objectivity (Georgia-Pacific and Koch Industries did not comment in the film), it remains a vital, eye-opening portrait.
Running time: 1 hour, 30 minutes
Playing: Laemmle Music Hall, Beverly Hills
See the most-read stories in Entertainment this hour »
It's a date
Get our L.A. Goes Out newsletter, with the week's best events, to help you explore and experience our city.
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.