Documentary that Touches on the Community’s Rebound Following Janesville’s GM Closure to Debut at BIFF

“Shift Change,” a 35-minute documentary that highlights the determination of the Janesville community to rebound following the General Motors (GM) closure in 2008 will debut at the Beloit International Film Festival (BIFF) on Feb. 21 & 23. 

The film is directed by Janesville native, William Roach. A Janesville Craig graduate, Roach had not lived in Janesville since the ’70s. He originally wanted to look at the impact of automation on a blue-collar town like Janesville, but upon his return to the community he was surprised to see how Janesville was rebuilding itself from the GM closure. His observations and investigation led him to shoot the film through a different lens and focus on the people of Janesville. The documentary features comments from former GM workers, business leaders and public officials as well as the demolition of the GM Janesville Plant.

“I love how Bill Roach told the story from his perspective,” said Dona Dutcher of the Blackhawk Community Credit Union Legacy Center. “The film continually fluctuated between anguish and optimism without ever feeling disjointed. The cinematography was moving. Somehow, he made destruction seem graceful at times. An honest and responsible narrative that leaves you with promise without denying the grief that is real for so many. This isn’t just a story for Janesville but for many in our country.”

Roach has vast experience in the digital film and video production business. He is a 14-time Emmy award winner and has worked behind the camera for ESPN, CBS and WISC Channel 3 in Madison prior to his documentary work.

For those who are interested in viewing the film, it will be shown at BIFF on Friday, Feb. 21, at 7:30 p.m. at Domenico’s and Sunday, Feb. 23 at noon at LaCasa Grande. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for students and are available online at, the BIFF box office or at the venue. Note that screenings do sell out and may not be available at the door.

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