The Men of Atalissa

The Men of Atalissa

Produced by Kassie Bracken, JohnWoo and Dan Barry, The Men of Atalissa is the evocative, haunting story of a few dozen men with intellectual disabilities who lived in an old schoolhouse on top of a hill. For more than three decades, they were an integral part of an Iowa farming community, worshiping at the local churches, dancing at the local bars, working at a nearby turkey processing plant; they were affectionately known as “the boys.” But none of their neighbors knew of the day-to-day abuse the men endured in that schoolhouse on the hill.

Men of Atalissa

Men of Atalissa
35 min. / documentary
2014 / USA (New York Times)

The Men of Atalissa is a documentary film by POV.org and The New York Times about 32 intellectually challenged people who were employed by Texas-based Henry’s Turkey Service without proper compensation, and were abused physically and mentally, living in harsh conditions, at Atalissa, Iowa, for more than 30 years beginning in the 1970s. The men, paid a wage of $65 a month and sheltered in an old uphill schoolhouse, processed meat.

Their conditions were made public in 2009 leading to a $240 million jury verdict, subsequently reduced to $50,000 per person. The documentary is based on court records and internal documents of the company and features first-time interviews with seven of the victims.

View the film here.

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