The Women of Brukman

Director: Isaac Isitan
Screenwriters: Isaac Isitan

Institute History

  • 2008 Sundance Film Festival


Between 2001 and 2003, Argentina saw a new kind of revolution. After a national economic meltdown, with almost 60 percent of the population living in poverty and unemployment rising, factory owners literally walked away from debt-ridden plants. The fabrica ocupada phenomenon, where workers started running abandoned factories where they had previously been employed, began at this time.

The Women of Brukman is an inspiring vérité chronicle of the struggles faced by a group of women who manage to restart a men’s suit factory after the owners disappeared overnight—leaving everything except money to pay the bills and the wages due their workers. The Brukman factory has since become an international symbol for workers, standing as an inspiring solution to daunting economic challenges.

Turkish/Canadian filmmaker and journalist Isaac Isitan followed the story for years, capturing the personalities of the women, the detail of factory life, and the scale of the struggle. At one point, in an attempt to stop the workers, the police declare the factory closed and seal off the block. A protest grows, drawing supporters from all over Argentina. And when 50 of the women push their way through a barricade to go to work, tear gas and plastic bullets fly. A long legal battle follows, as the women of Brukman fight to safeguard their own jobs and gain the dignity of having more control over their lives.

— Cara Mertes

Screening Details

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