- Ross Nugent’s “Steel Mill Rolling”
“They won,” reads graffiti on the overgrown, busted-in building in Ross Nugent’s “Steel Mill Rolling.” The 12-minute 2013 documentary, a blend of landscape and industrial film, captures what’s left of the former Sharon Steel plant, near Sharon, Pa. Nugent’s family has worked the site for four generations; his dad, a millwright, has 48 years in, and Nugent worked a summer there in college.
Once, the plant made steel, and in Nugent’s youth employed 4,000, he says. Now, 400 workers process into coils the steel slabs that are made overseas for NLMK, the Russian company that bought the plant five years ago. And that graffiti’s “They” are the bosses who cashed out while thousands were laid off.
Eschewing narration and interviews, the film artfully captures both the grounds and the milling process, down to the glowing orange of furnace guts. With its electronic score and carefully framed shots, “Steel Mill Rolling” has an elegiac air, even while honoring the work it documents.
“Steel Mill Rolling” highlights the Dec. 8 edition of Film Kitchen, a series for local and independent artists. Also screening is Daniel Luchman’s “MOTHERZEUS,” a marvelously insane, animated 18-minute parody of a motivational talk. And the filmmaking team of Christy Leonardo and Stephen Knezovich offers three shorts, including: “Franksgiving,” (a Steeltown Film Factory award-winning comedy about a champion neighborhood bowler); “Loomis” (part of 2011’s 48 Hour Film Festival); and “Coupon Pro” (featuring comedy troupe Million Dollar Extreme).
Nugent, 35, is a Bloomfield resident who teaches at Thiel College. He shot “Steel Mill Rolling” in the summers of 2010 and 2011, mostly on a handwound Bolex 16 mm camera. The film screened at the Black Maria Film Festival (where it won the top prize for documentary), the Ann Arbor Film Festival and British Columbia’s Antimatter.
Reviews from NLMK employees were also positive. One worker told him, “You made this place look good.”