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Ready, Set, Bag! Opens in Washington – Film Follows Grocery Baggers in National Competition

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"Ready, Set, Bag" premieres at Seattle's Central Cinema Friday, August 6th

“Ready, Set, Bag”, which opens August 6 at the Central Cinema in Seattle, chronicles the lives of eight grocery baggers who are competing for the honor of being named the “Best Bagger” at an annual National Grocers Association convention in Las Vegas. The film is Directed and Produced by Justine Jacob, who was also responsible for the 2006 documentary “Runner’s High”. Here she tackles the struggle of the working class American.

The film focuses on eight specific grocery baggers and develops what got them into the grocery bagging competition and what their life situations are like. These eight are seemingly randomly selected yet give a good idea of the diversity of the age and social classes at the competition. It also accurately depicts the motives that all of these people bring into the competition, as well as what it means to them to win it.

This is a film that is comparable to the Seattle-Produced documentary “The King of Kong” in its exploration of a competition that is not very well publicized yet is taken very seriously by the people involved in it. However, unlike that movie, which followed just two key people, “Ready, Set, Bag” attempts to follow eight people. This is a very difficult approach as it is hard to develop eight characters equally, even in a narrative fiction film. “Ready, Set, Bag” wisely narrows down its approach as the film progresses to three or four of the more interesting characters. One wonders if this might have been the best choice from the beginning because the other characters do not get the same development or character arc. However, the choices were very wise as the characters that do get developed the most are very fun and interesting studies.

Where “Ready, Set, Bag” is at it’s best is the true heart of the film, in it’s exploration of the common American blue-collar worker and the motivations of people in these situations. It is great fun to learn about how the baggers prepare for the competition, including funny montages with them training for the competition. While at first the audience laughs at the hilarity of taking grocery bagging so seriously, you become quickly accustomed to the terminology and admire the technicality of what these people do. Pay attention the next time you go grocery shopping and you will see if your local bagger does it the way it is really supposed to be done. I found myself correcting my bagger, “Crushables on top please, sir.” (Justine Jacob would be proud.)

The film thrives in giving out the message that you should excel at what you do, even if it may be something that is seemingly less important than other job. None of these people began grocery bagging to gain fame or money with this competition, they just worked hard at what they did and earned the respect of those around them. My personal favorite character was Roger Chen from Alabama. He immigrated to the United States from Trinidad and Tobago and is working his way through college. I really attached myself to him, as he was genuine in his efforts to improve the experience for the customer. He is in search of the classic American Dream, and is well on his way to being the type of rags to riches story that fueled his desire to come to America.

“Ready, Set, Bag” is a fun foray into the world of this community of people that are part of everyone’s lives yet often go unnoticed. It struggles midway through with an overabundance of characters, yet there are so many interesting people involved that it remains a worthy watch. It is good to see documentaries that are not going the self-important way of the recent Michael Moore trend. There is a genuine sense of excitement heading into the finale in Las Vegas and you are sure to find a character that is your favorite and attach yourself to them throughout the journey. Justine Jacob seems committed to highlighting people that are hard-working and honest, and she does so in a poignant and positive way in this film as well.

The film also has an animated short Leonardo from Academy Award Nominee Jim Capobianco. The premiere on Friday at 8:00 pm will feature Director/Producer Justine Jacob afterwards for a Q&A. The film will continue to play throughout the weekend at Central with 6:00 & 8:00 P.M. showings. Then it will play at 7:00 P.M. through the 11th of August. Don’t miss out on this opportunity to see a unique documentary as well as a highly touted short film that will surely be in the conversation come awards season.

Schedule for Ready, Set, Bag! at Central Cinema

Fri Aug 6 @ 8:00
Sat Aug 7 @ 6:00 & 8:00
Sun Aug 8 @ 6:00 & 8:00
Mon Aug 9 @ 7:00
Tues Aug 10 @ 7:00
Weds Aug 11 @ 7:00

Also see: Ready, Set, Bag! Helping Fund Local Food Banks