In their documentary American Made Movie, Nathaniel Thomas McGill and Vincent Vittorio make a compelling argument that America can and must bring back its manufacturing strength; they illustrate all too well the devastating reach of a factory closing. While this is no Michael Moore screamer—it’s neither that annoying nor that entertaining—the filmmakers choose their stories for maximum effect. You learn that major league baseball caps are made in Asia and that the Smithsonian gift shop replaced handmade American-flag kitsch from Connecticut with Chinese knockoffs. Their stated aim is to inspire a movement like the groundswell for local food, but McGill and Vittorio’s case for the consumer as the driver of manufacturing proves convoluted. Their specialists note that expectations for low, low prices are a culprit, and that paying more to buy American would help rescue our economy. But why should that difference come only from consumer pockets and not company profits? An activist Georgia town entices business with tax breaks, but we don’t know the return on investment for the people who live there. When the filmmakers highlight foreign auto companies with American factories, no one acknowledges that those are non-union shops. And never do they mention what is perhaps the most shameful aspect of the global manufacture of the things we buy: that too many people abroad are paid woefully little to work in wretched conditions. The film’s experts and entrepreneurs have a lot to say worth listening to, but little that illuminates any clear path.
Nathaniel Thomas McGill, Vincent VittorioRyan C. WilsonNathaniel Thomas McGill, Vincent VittorioVariance Films