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The Green Life: Movie Review Friday: Sleep Dealer

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March 20, 2009

Movie Review Friday: Sleep Dealer

Escape to the movies with one of our Movie Review Friday selections. Each week, we review a film with an environmental theme that’s currently in theaters or available on DVD. Seen a good eco-flick lately? Send us a review of 100 or fewer words and look for it in the next Movie Review Friday.

Sleep Dealer (2008)
In theaters April 17

All the work... without the workers. This is the provocative vision of Sleep Dealer, a new film that's being compared to a south-of-the-border Blade Runner. Set in Mexico in the not-too-distant future, the plot follows Memo Cruz (Luis Fernando Peña) from rural Oaxaca to big-city Tijuana, where he becomes a "virtual laborer," controlling machines across the U.S. border that work in posh restaurants, on construction sites, or as nannies for wealthy families.

Though workers in this computerized sweatshop are often electrocuted or blinded, Memo must keep working there to send money to his family, which must pay for water after a private company dams the river. Soon Memo meets a military officer responsible for Memo's father's death, and a writer named Luz (Leonor Varela) who is secretly selling Memo's life story online .

Dealing with issues of water privatization, environmental justice, globalization, and more, Sleep Dealer, recognized at Sundance with a screenwriting award, is a frightening vision of a world in which technology is a dehumanizing force rather than a tool to bring people together. The film will be released on April 17, but look for local screenings like the one I attended in Berkeley, California, sponsored by the university's Center for Latin American Studies.

--Adam Kapp

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