"You find it on Canal Street and feel like you're fooling the world. Look, I got this! And no one knows it's a fake." - Karey, Shopper
KNOCK OFF - REVENGE ON THE LOGO is a reflection on branding and globalization, framed by a journey up the world's longest shopping strip, Broadway in New York City, a veritable meridian of counterfeit selling.
We begin in Chinatown, as Canal Street stirs in the morning, then move up through Soho, and stop for an interlude in Times Square before rolling uptown for a night in Harlem. Along the way we meet corporate lawyers and anti-sweatshop activists, girly-girls searching for the perfect handbag, and immigrants selling knocked off merchandise to make a living (while staying a step ahead of the police).
"The only way we can survive is to try to outsmart the system - piracy, and doing things off the books, that's part of how we survive." - Hyun Lee, Activist
In the logo-malls and designer zones, cultural critics sift through the baffling effects of underwear models who loom seven stories tall, while anti-shopping preachers testify to street side congregations about resisting the temptation of "the brand."
In Harlem, we watch as people create and crush selective branding strategies, and their knock-offs become an attempt to take back the means of cultural production, which have evaporated from their neighborhood.
With provocative interviews and witty editing and cinematography illuminating the power logos have on the street, KNOCK OFF documents an underground economy of people who resist the globalized culture of brands, by using the science of branding against itself.
"Fast-paced... [A] colorfully provocative excursion into piracy paradise."—Nancy Spillman, Economic Education Enterprise, for Library Journal
2004 Rotterdam International Film Festival
2006 North American Labor History Conference
"An entertaining and provocative tour of some of the main issues raised by luxury branded goods in a global economy."—Leonardo - The Journal for the International Society for the Arts, Sciences and Technology
"The subject of 'knock offs' is usually treated one-dimensionally, similarly to the way that music file-sharing is defined, simply, as a crime. [KNOCK OFF] moves far beyond this simplistic approach, offering a multi-faceted picture of the 'knock off' as a complex artifact of contemporary consumer culture. [KNOCK OFF] is an excellent piece of story-telling, approaching knock-off goods as essential components of the economy of urban life; as products produced by the same people who produce the 'real thing'; as objects that carry viewers into the business of branding and image-marketing, and as things that are transformed and renegotiated into new and unanticipated forms of creative expression. Excellent work. I found the film very stimulating."—Stuart Ewen, Author, Channels of Desire