The American Dream and Other Fairy Tales The American Dream and Other Fairy Tales

Abigail Disney is mounting her strongest attack yet on her namesake company, via a new documentary that premieres at Sundance on January 24.

In recent years, Disney, granddaughter of Walt Disney Company co-founder Roy O. Disney, has spoken increasingly loudly against policies at the company she considers unjust, especially around pay. She returns to this theme in The American Dream and Other Fairy Tales, which she directed with Kathleen Hughes (the pair previously directed The Armor of Light).

The project was prompted by a Facebook message Disney, a progressive filmmaker and activist, received in 2018 from a Disneyland “cast member” who spoke of his low pay. She realized he and others were working in poor conditions. “Honestly, I wanted to believe Disney was better than that,” she tells The Hollywood Reporter in a new interview.

Watch Disney and Hughes introduce their film:

As Disney investigated, she developed a critique of the company’s practices, whereby executives and shareholders get rich at the expense of rank-and-file workers. Unsurprisingly, this didn’t endear her to former CEO Bob Iger, whom she has called “a good manager in the Ebenezer Scrooge sense.” She exchanged a few emails with him, “[a]nd after my second email, it was silence, and it’s been silence ever since.”

As for his replacement Bob Chapek:

[He] was the guy who presided over all of the changes at Disneyland and Disney World that we’re talking about in this film — dynamic scheduling, a euphemism for jerking them around so they can’t get a second job and they never make 40 hours a week and they don’t qualify for health care. … So I don’t really have very optimistic expectations [about Chapek’s tenure as CEO]. If anything, it’ll probably get worse.

To the filmmaker, the Walt Disney Company symbolizes a broader malaise in American capitalism. “I really do want regular American people, voters, to see [the documentary]. I want them to see it and think about it when they go to the polls. And I want them to think about it when they get approached about organizing for a union.”

Submarine is repping the film at Sundance. Read more about it here. (Note that the festival’s site describes Disney as a descendant of Walt Disney, which is slightly misleading: she is the granddaughter of his brother Roy O. and daughter of Roy E. Disney, a longtime executive at the company who went on to lead a successful shareholder revolt.)