At the end of the nineties around two thousand predominantly female employees were collectively defending their jobs and rights in the four Levi’s factories in Belgium and the border region in France. After six months of strikes and demonstrations the French contingent still fought against the closure, offering to lower their wages by ten percent. The adamant way the women entered into the fight, speaks for more than their attachment to the job for wages alone.
The factories did close and all these women, many of whom had spent their whole working life – beginning at a young age – with Levi’s, found themselves with no employment.
In the summer of 2000, twenty-five of the women joined a two-month writing workshop instigated by dramatist Bruno Lajara, who was interested in creating a play about their experiences. By the following year, they had created an association and written a book of vignettes about their experiences with the title Les Mains Bleues (Blue Hands). The resulting theatre piece, called 501 blues – in which five of the women play out a script based on the writings of the group – toured the whole of France successfully for two years. Some of these women kept working with the same director in various other productions enjoying their role on stage and being active as actresses.
Après la reprise, la prise was filmed on location in the KTA-Wollemarkt in Mechelen with two of these ex-Levis workers who turned actresses and a group of young students from the Technical Atheneum, who are expecting to enter the work force in various forms of employment soon. On the occasion of the film shoot, which took place for a large part in the recently dismantled sewing classroom, the dialogue developed without scripted text in this concentrated meeting between them. They exchange experiences and their knowledge on being and speaking in public, linking issues like the transforming conditions of work and subjectivity to conditions of cultural production in its various takes and re-takes.
With: Thérèse Flouquet, Brigitte Nowak, Ahmed Chouyouhi, Imram Achakkar, Annye Silva, Hanane El Bouziani, Janne Van Eynde, Evelien Huylebroeck, Alberto Mvila, Kevin Mcleod, Hemili Carmen Da Silva Routman, Amal Siraj.
Camera: Ben De Wandel, sound: Jan Samson, make-up: Sophie Engelen, thanks: Tanja Janssens.
Après la reprise, la prise was co- produced by Contour Mechelen, and supported by Fonds BKVB.
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