Floored: The Pit

Enter a world where pandemonium reigns and reckless ambition rules: the trading floors in the financial canyons of downtown Chicago. Here, men use strange hand signals to buy and sell everything from pork belly to soybeans while wearing the weight of our complex economy on their shoulders - along with their neon jackets.

It's a physical, bruising place, one where a slight gain creates heroes, rich beyond what their high school educations should ever afford. But the wrong move on the wrong day can ruin lives. At a time when millions have lost fortunes in the fickle stock market and fear abounds about the faltering financial system, "Floored" is an honest look behind the curtain of the trading floor that few have ever seen.

Floored captured this sea change that turned the world upside down for many who had been extremely successful on the floor but couldn’t, or just didn’t want to, make the move to computerized trading. No doubt there are many success stories, but this is not their story.

For the most part, the movie tells the tale of a group of floor traders who describe in their own words how their world got smaller. In a business where Darwinism is a basic tenet, this movie shows the stark reality of what happened to those who couldn’t adapt.

Many younger traders, of course, are hip to the new technology, but “Floored” isn’t interested in them; it’s the old-schoolers on the way out who are its focus. The stories of this dying breed are fascinating.

Among them is that of Mike Walsh, a foulmouthed, barrel-chested floor trader with a big house and a taste for hunting big game in Africa; Kenny Ford, a gruff 51-year-old vigorously but vainly opposed to e-trading; and Jeff Ansani, who took a colossal loss in one trade in 1994 and is now a mere clerk and divorced father encouraging a son to enter the market but to learn computers too.

These are brawny, profane, beer-drinking, cigar-smoking men, some prosperous, others breaking or broken. Their turf, like Chicago, is tough and passionate: a trading floor, fast vanishing under their feet.