American Standoff


Bottom 40% of all time (see others with this rank)

Festival Year

2002 (click here to see all competition films from this year)


Documentary Competition

Non-Cast Credits

Kristi Jacobson, Barbara Kopple, Sheila Nevins, Julie Anderson, Amy Shatsky-Gambrill, Kristen Johnson, Bob Maraist, Tom Kaufman, Bob Eisenhardt, Joel Goodman


American Standoff puts the viewer on the front lines of one of the largest and costliest strikes in the Teamsters Union's history. This rousing film illustrates the problems workers face when once-powerful unions lose their grip.

As the film commences, organizers from around the country are rallying to support a strike against Overnite Transportation, a nationwide freight company that has repeatedly resisted union organizing. Employees are seeking safer work conditions, relief from wrongful firings, and contracts, all of which the company has refused in the past. As the strike begins, workers from the terminals in different cities head out to the picket line for what they predict will be a quick resolution. The company, however, plans to wait as long as possible in order to exhaust the union's funds and support.

Complicating matters, the union is actually waging two concurrent battles. It is divided between protecting the labor rights of its workers and an internal political struggle between governing factions. James P. Hoffa, son of the famed Jimmy Hoffa is the current Teamsters' president and wants to be reelected for a second term. He has worked to clear the union's name from its sullied reputation because of old mob connections during his father's reign. Archival footage of the Teamsters in their heyday is neatly layered with compelling, current individual workers' stories. Produced by Barbara Kopple, American Standoff is constructed in a similar way to her previous provocative films, focusing on the individual worker's plight. Emotionally charged and unflinching, American Standoff explore the modern-day dynamics of a fierce union battle.


Lisa Viola (see other films reviewed by the same reviewer)

Film Takes Pace.