- Actors: Eric Schlosser, Margaret Atwood, Conrad Black
- Directors: Jennifer Baichwal
- Format: NTSC
- Language: English
- Subtitles: French, English
- Number of discs: 1
- Studio: Mongrel Media
- Release Date: Aug. 21 2012
- Average Customer Review: 2 customer reviews
- ASIN: B008AZDD7Y
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #40,726 in Movies & TV Shows (See Top 100 in Movies & TV Shows)
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Payback (Sous-titres français)
Based on Margaret Atwood’s best-selling book Payback: Debt and the Shadow Side of Wealth, this thought-provoking film offers a comprehensive outlook on debt in its various forms—societal, personal, environmental, spiritual, criminal, and economic. Filmmaker Jennifer Baichwal (Manufactured Landscapes) exposes surprising debtor/creditor relationships and traces how debt influences societies, governing structures and the fate of the planet.
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The film does include some talking heads, such as Raj Patel and Karen Armstrong, saying very cogent things, but mainly it shows us the impact of ecological, moral and spiritual debts on people's actual lives. Financial debt is mostly kept to the background, as it was in the book, but the current crisis in capitalism has been covered in other recent documentaries. Here we see the stories of two Albanian families embroiled in a blood feud, and of two men who have recently been "paying their debt to society" in American prisons -- strongly contrasted in that one is a poor man of color, the other rich and very white. (Ironically, the white man is Conrad Black, whose presence is perhaps the most surprising in the film.) The debt we all owe for cheap imported food is graphically exemplified by the lives and struggles of Latino tomato pickers in Florida. Even more graphic is the devastating impact of the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. But there's no sermonizing here, at least not on the filmmaker's part. The viewer is left to draw his or her own conclusions, and the film is all the more powerful for that.
It's all beautifully shot, especially the lingering contemplation of the long-abandoned building that was America's first "penitentiary." The extras on the DVD are substantial, especially "The Fairness Experiment" featuring primatologist Frans de Waal and a couple of chimps, but also the interviews with Atwood and Jane Goodall. I would recommend watching this film with a few friends and talking it over afterwards: it could change the way you think about debt, and that could change how you live -- maybe even "redeem" you from the pawnshop of life! Jennifer Baichwal, like Margaret Atwood, has done us a great service here: we are in her debt.
I should also mention that the DVD i received from Amazon includes French and English subtitles, and the cover on the case looks slightly different from the one shown on this page at the time of writing.
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