Closing Reception, 6:30pm, Film 7pm
Arguably contemporary cinema’s greatest chroniclers of the workingclass, Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne here join forces with one of the most talented performers working today, Marion Cotillard. The actress plays Sandra, an employee at a solar-panel factory in an industrial town in Belgium who took a leave of absence after suffering a bout of crippling depression. Although eager to return to work, the wife and mother of two young children is told that management is offering each of her colleagues a 1,000-euro bonus if they vote to make her redundant. Sandra, still emotionally frail, faces the daunting task of meeting with each of her 16 coworkers over the span of a weekend to convince them why they should forgo the cash and let her resume her position at the company. Each of these encounters reveals the Dardenne brothers’ signature compassion for characters torn asunder by the demands of late capitalism. The themes that dominate this unforgettable film—the fight for worker solidarity, the definition of sacrifice, the struggle to maintain self-respect—aren’t presented didactically but rather emerge organically as Sandra pleads, again and again, for the right not to be dismissed.