OFFICIAL SELECTION - Sundance Film Festival | OFFICIAL SELECTION - Hot DocsWorkers Rights • Disney • Economic Inequality • Unionization • Living Wage • Corporate Accountability & Responsibility • Labor Studies
Date of Completion: 2022 | Run Time: 87 minutes | Language: English | Captions: Yes | Includes: Transcript | Directors: Abigail E. Disney & Kathleen Hughes | Producers: Abigail E. Disney, Kathleen Hughes & Aideen Kane | Co-Producers: Lauren Winbush, Kat Vecchio & Alexander Hyde | Editor: David Cohen | Executive Producers: Susan Disney Lord, Tim Disney, Bill Haney, Paula Froehle & Steve Cohen | Music: Blake Leyh | Director of Photography: Jeff Hutches & James Mills | Animation: Awesome & Modest
In this feature-length, personal essay documentary, filmmaker and philanthropist Abigail Disney grapples with America’s profound inequality crisis. The story begins in 2018, after Abigail encounters workers at the company that bears her name struggling to put food on the table. Could she, a descendent, with no role in the multinational conglomerate, use her famous last name to help pressure Disney and other American corporations to treat low-wage workers more humanely? Believing her conservative grandfather, Roy Disney, (Walt’s brother and company co-founder) would never have tolerated employee hunger at “The Happiest Place On Earth”, Abigail reexamines the story of modern American capitalism from the middle of the last century, when wealth was shared more equitably, to today, when CEO’s earn upwards of 800 times more than their average employees. What happened? What Abigail learns-about racism, corporate power, and the American Dream, is eye-opening, unexpected, and inspiring in that it begins to imagine a path to a fairer future for everyone.
Filmed over a two-year period, THE AMERICAN DREAM AND OTHER FAIRY TALES expertly weaves together Abigail’s family story and the stories of Disneyland workers; with commentary from historians, authors, and academics. The film artfully employs archive, animation, and never-before-seen Disney family movies. From the boardroom to the union hall, the film will no doubt jump-start urgently needed conversations, about how to make American capitalism work for everyone. As Abigail concludes, “it won’t be easy, but with imagination and courage it can be changed."
“You must see The American Dream and Other Fairy Tales! It explains how top executives got richer as workers got poorer. Personally, I'm not seeing another Disney anything until fairness to all its workers is not just a fantasy. I salute Abby Disney for expressing this suffering imposed in her family name."
Variety | Peter Debruge
“[It] makes a powerful statement when a member of one of America’s most respected families steps forward and demands change, not unlike the way Mary L. Trump speaks out against her uncle Donald…One of great-uncle Walt’s greatest strengths was his ability to take the complexity of the real world and simplify it so even children could understand. Here, Abigail does the same.”
The Hollywood Reporter | Frank Scheck
“Still, the film makes an extremely powerful, timely and important statement, especially coming from someone whose name carries such symbolic weight. Disney deserves tremendous credit for standing up for what’s right, even if it means biting the family hand that feeds her.”
Los Angeles Times | Josh Rottenberg
“Through the stories of Disneyland workers living on the edge of poverty and the perspective of labor experts and academics, the film strips away the cheery veneer of the "Happiest Place on Earth" to expose what Disney sees as the immoral culture of corporate greed at not only its heart but that of American capitalism as a whole."
Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, AFL-CIO | Sara Nelson, International President
"Every person in America (and around the world) needs to see this movie. Thanks, Abigail Disney for this film - that's not just about Disney, but an entire system that we have to get out of the cruel grip of unchecked capitalism and into the hands of the people."
Film Threat | Norman Gidney
“The film is an essential look at the realities facing the American workforce.”