A free movie screening in downtown Santa Barbara tonight will give local residents a chance to learn about the price communities across the world pay every time retail giant Wal-Mart rolls into a new town.

The documentary “Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price” will show at 7 p.m. in the Santa Barbara Public Library’s Faulkner Gallery, located at 40 E. Anapamu St. The screening – sponsored by HopeDance Media – is one of seven showings of the film in Santa Barbara, Montecito, Santa Maria and San Luis Obispo on Nov. 13 through Nov. 19, the movie’s premiere week, HopeDance volunteer Suzanne Arthur said. She said the film, produced by the Brave New Films production company, focuses on the experiences of people who have been adversely affected by the Wal-Mart Corporation.

“The film is really telling people’s individual stories about how they were harmed [by Wal-Mart],” Arthur said. “The film also has quite a large scope. It was filmed on three different continents by dozens of film crews. It really is showing Wal-Mart as a global influence and how it changes communities around the world.”

According to the film’s website, www.walmartmovie.com, the documentary alleges that Wal-Mart underpays and mistreats its employees and destroys small businesses, among other things.

Arthur said she thinks the film is especially significant for Santa Barbara County because the Santa Maria City Council is meeting on Nov. 15 to discuss the possible construction of a Wal-Mart Super Center in Santa Maria. She said controversy over the proposed Wal-Mart has generated a good deal of local interest in the film.

“There is quite a buzz that’s been created online,” Arthur said. “There’s [many] groups who are very concerned with Wal-Mart’s savage practices.”

The film is mostly being shown at small, local screenings like the ones coordinated by HopeDance Media, which is a Santa Barbara-based group that hosts screenings of movies aimed at making a positive difference in the community, Arthur said. She said Brave New Films, has recently produced the documentary “Outfoxed,” has been selling DVDs of “Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price” on its website, to be shown in small screenings across the nation during the film’s premiere week.

“There’s going to be more than 7,000 screenings across the United States and these have all been organized by the grassroots,” Arthur said. “They use the Internet to gather interest in and cultivate an audience with the people who tend to be the kind of people who are most affected by the issues brought up in the films.”

According to a press release on www.walmartmovie.com, the film was also released on Nov. 4 in a limited number of theaters in New York and Los Angeles.

“‘Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price’ is the story of one company using its power to destroy the fabric of American life, and it is important to us that as many people as possible see it,” filmmaker Robert Greenwald said.

The screening tonight is being cosponsored by a variety of local groups, including Santa Barbara Permaculture Network, the Santa Barbara Green Party, and Drinking Liberally of Santa Barbara, according to a press release from HopeDance Media. Arthur said the co-sponsors are responsible for helping to publicize the event.

The screening is free, Arthur said, but HopeDance Media requests that attendees make a $10 donation at the door to help cover the cost of renting the Faulkner Gallery. DVDs of the movie will be available for $12 at the screening, she said.

Arthur said she thinks people should take this opportunity to see the film because it might not be released in many theaters.

“Since this is a brand new way of marketing films, it’s difficult and people need to be notified and reminded that they might not see this film coming to their neighborhood theaters,” Arthur said. “But it’s really important to see it, especially with things like the meeting in Santa Maria coming up.”