Documentary about Janesville’s resurgence following GM closure debuts at Beloit film festival

Janesville still waiting to hear back from General Motors on $25M legacy fund

BELOIT Wis. — A documentary about Janesville’s resurgence following the 2008 closing of the city’s General Motors plant debuted at the Beloit International Film Festival over the weekend.

The 35-minute documentary “Shift Change” focuses on the people of Janesville and how they worked to revitalize the city after the plant’s closure. Directed by Emmy-award-winning film maker William Roach, the documentary features commentary from former GM workers, business leaders and public officials. Footage from the plant’s demolition is also included.

Before deciding to share Janesville’s story, Roach wanted to look at the impact of automation on a blue-collar town. When he returned to his hometown after leaving in the 70s, Roach discovered the city had started to make a comeback after GM’s closure.

“The film continually fluctuated between anguish and optimism without even feeling disjointed,” said Dona Dutcher of the Blackhawk Community Credit Union Legacy Center. “The cinematography was moving. Somehow, [Roach] made destruction seem graceful at times. An honest and responsible narrative that leaves you with promise without denying grief that is real for so many.”

Prior to his work on the documentary, Roach worked behind the camera for ESPN, CBS and WISC TV.