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World premiere of Factory to the Workers in competition at 28th Sheffield DocFest 

Feature-length documentary Factory to the Workers, directed by Srđan Kovačević, to premiere in international competition at 28th Sheffiled DocFest, scheduled to run 4th – 13th June, in hybrid format. 

The international competition will feature 11 feature-length documentary titles, including Factory to the Workers, directed, written and shot by Srđan Kovačević

The film traces the workers who occupied the ITAS factory in Ivanac, Croatia, in 2005. Since then, they have acted as a collective, becoming one of the most successful examples of a factory occupation in post-socialist Europe. Now, as they re-evaluate the new model of collective ownership, the micro world of the factory clashes with the powerful forces of the global market, resulting in reduced and intermittent pay and growing discontent among the workers. For five years, Srđan Kovačević regularly returned to shoot the film which portrays the evolution of this collective enterprise. Factory to the Workers tells the story of workers whose actions challenged the dominant economic narrative. But, a decade into the process, the question remains: can a factory in the hands of the workers survive on the margins of capitalism or do we need a bigger dream?

The film is a Fade In production, produced by Sabina Krešić and Luka Venturin. Srđan Kovačević also edited the film, together with Damir Čučić and Iva Kraljević. Sound design and editing was done by Ranko Pauković, while colour correction was done by Branko Linta and Magdalena Ptiček. The film is supported by Croatian Audiovisual Centre and the City of Zagreb. 

In the final stages of development, the film participated in the industry section of the Trieste Film Festival – Last Stop Trieste, the industry programme at DOK Leipzig and Sarajevo Film Festival (Docu Rough Cut Boutique), as well as being developed at the Ex Oriente Film workshop (2017). 

“I belong to a generation whose coming of age was strongly marked by the process of Croatian post-war privatisation and the transition of commonly owned resources into private hands. I have witnessed the shutdown of many factories which had sustained entire families. ITAS was a different example: the only factory in ex-Yugoslavia (and Europe) where the workers organised, physically took over and managed to continue the production. My initial intention was to show the good example, to share the knowledge with the hope that such endeavours can pave the way for a more equitable economy. But my daily presence among the workers made me realise that the story was much more complex.

Capitalism as a system is still the framework within which all alternative forms of production have to survive. The workers are torn between the loyalty to the idea of self-management and the need for bigger incomes which ITAS cannot provide, while, on a bigger scale, ITAS is an outsourced plant for big German companies, still stuck in a peripheral position. ‘Factory to the Workers’ aims to show the complexity of capitalist economy, which determines alternative organisational models far more than the romanticised view of them is ready to admit,” says Srđan Kovačević about his film.  

This year, the Sheffield International Documentary Film Festival – Sheffield DocFest is held 4th – 13th June, at cinemas across Sheffield and UK, as well as online. The edition will screen 78 feature-length and 88 short documentary works, 58 of which will be world, 22 international, 15 European and 59 British premieres.

More information about Sheffield DocFest is available on the festival’s official website

Cover photograph: a scene from Factory to the Workers

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