Wednesday, November 15, 2017

DOC NYC Spotlight: Zero Weeks

I’m excited to have been able to screen a few selections from DOC NYC, America’s largest documentary festival, which presents its eighth year in New York City from November 9th-16th.

Zero Weeks
Directed by Ky Dickens
Festival Screenings

There are many political issues that are at the forefront of the public conversation in the United States today. For every proposed bill or highlighted social injustice, there are any number of opinions on all sides of the aisle. One topic that surely garners spirited arguments for and against it also affects the greatest number of people, regardless of income or background and objectively stands in stark contrast to the policies employed by so many other countries: paid sick and paternity leave.

This fact-filled documentary begins by citing Papua New Guinea as literally the only other country in the world that requires employers to offer zero weeks for those for work for them to care for themselves, a sick loved one, or a newborn. How this practically plays out and affects people is covered in great detail, with the systems in place in other countries broken down and simplified. Inevitabilities like the statistic that one in five people in the United States will be 65 or older in 2025 are brought up to showcase why it’s crucial that this must be addressed.

Following a few subjects makes this film’s point all the more emphatic, with the particular case of an expectant mother whose twin children were born three months early and died right away given just three days per deceased family member to take off from work, with each paperwork- and mourning-filled day so unfathomably unbearable. The fact that fathers should be given time off as well is cited as most important because it destigmatizes the need for women to have time off and thus appear less stable as potential employees. Stories about expectant parents turning to crowdfunding their maternity leaves are especially jarring when the math of a small paycheck deduction to create a large fund for employers to cover whatever they need is clearly detailed.

The arguments made in this film have clearly won over this reviewer, but what’s even more impressive is how the complexities of how this affects people across the country are analyzed. There is no clear villain other than the governing policy itself, since those responsible for their employees at small companies explain that they cover whatever leave they offer from their own pockets, often at their own losses. This less than uplifting documentary serves as an exceptionally constructed and vitally important call to action.


No comments: