"Five cents isn't much, but it's honorable work. We hold our heads high."
-Nuve, mother of three, Sunnyside, Queens, NY
Meet Susan. She has a college degree and was a 1990 member of the IBM Winner's Circle, making her one of the top sales and marketing executives in the country. She's retired now. She's also a "canner"—one who collects bottles and cans and redeems them for income—because her social security is insufficient.
The HBO documentary short, Redemption, interviews and observes canners in New York City. A few meet the stereotypical expectations of substance abusers or the perennially homeless, but most of those interviewed formerly worked jobs in factories, restaurants, or similar situations where the jobs no long exist. Some are families trying to make a better life for their children.
Pointing out the parallel to President Obama's statement, "Before we were 'us', we were 'them'", filmmaker Matthew O'Neill said in an interview, "I think that's something we have to pay attention to..., recognizing that the men and women collecting bottles and cans are just like you and me. And they slip through the cracks." With skillful photography, insightful interviews, and careful editing, this documentary makes a forceful statement to that effect.