10 documentary films on capitalism and economics

0 Posted by - October 28, 2011 - Blog, Friday Film Pick, Screen

With the Occupy Wall Street manifestations taking up much of our social and political imaginations these days, we thought we’d highlight a few great films that bring context to the current uprising and related issues. Protesters are of course creating awareness about and resisting the global financial system and all its inequities and bad blood lineages. A broken economic system fuelled by greed and passed down to generations looking out for what their parents looked out for—themselves—is suddenly and finally the topic of the day, thanks to all the amazing activists occupying our financial districts and our attention.

Yet still many don’t fully understand what it’s all about, and since the devil is in the details, why not check out some documentary fare to round out the picture? Below is a list compiled from Cinema Politica and elsewhere of 10 docs that poke and prod at the capitalist economic system with creativity and criticism. This Halloween, while mainstream and corporate media remain content to focus on incidentals (protesters) at the cost of real systemic analysis (free market capitalism), why not peek behind the corporate mask and see what lurks beneath! Enjoy and please feel free to suggest more!


The American Ruling Class – An imaginative hybrid film (a dramatic documentary musical no less!) that follows the former editor of Harper’s magazine, Louis Lapham, as he encounters and provokes the haves of American society while giving due time to the have-nots and their rascally resistance tactics.


Let’s Make Money – As global bankers empty out resources in Africa and fill their own coffers in the West, this documentary from the director of We Feed the World, asks: How do so many work so hard for so little to make so few so rich?


Overdose: The Next Financial Crisis – Johan Norberg looks at the financial crisis and the causes of the meltdown, critiquing government policies for not stopping, but facilitating yet more financial collapses. Watch the whole film above.


Collapse - A stylistically rendered, pared down doc about controversial author Michael Ruppert, who in the film connects global unrest, energy markets, war, poverty and everything in between.


Inside Job – The director of this mainstream (distributed by Sony) but worth watching exposé, Charles H. Ferguson, describes the doc as being about “the systemic corruption of the United States by the financial services industry and the consequences of that systemic corruption.”


The Shock Doctrine (short) – The original short film based on Naomi Klein’s bestseller book The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism is a great interpretation of her thesis that disaster makes for good profit and keeps the machinery going.


Who’s Counting? Marilyn Waring on Sex Lies and Global Economics – An older but very solid National Film Board of Canada doc that engages with the amazing alternative economist Marilyn Waring, Who’s Counting is a refreshing departure from the scores of docs-on-economics that seem to forget women have a thing or two to say as well. You can watch the whole film above.


Iraq for Sale: The War Profiteers – No education on the global economic system would be complete without a look at the ways in which corporations and governments keep a perpetual war machine whirring and spinning blood into profits.


The Yes Men Fix the World – By far the only film on the list deploying humour and satire in the service of dismantling the layers of lies and corruption that prop up corporate capitalism, the second Yes Men documentary is infinitely better than the first and, thankfully, self-distributed this time (the first instalment was carried by MGM, effectively killing many grassroots screening opportunities.


The Corporation – The grandparent of all the wee grandchildren above, The Corporation set the bar high when it came out a decade ago, but still stands the test of time. Is the corporation a psychopath? Watch this film and you be the judge.

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