Films about the US economic crisis

From Jennifer’s Documentaries Blog in the USA:

Documentary Watch: September Theatrical Releases

Wednesday September 2, 2009

Most highly anticipated among September’s theatrical releases is Michael Moore‘s latest documentary, Capitalism: A Love Story, which opens in select cities on September 23, distributed by Overture Films. As the title indicated, the documentary is Moore’s unique take on why our economy is failing, a subject recently covered in several documentaries, including the acclaimed I.O.U.S.A..

The failing economy is also targeted in American Casino, which opens in select theaters on September 4, distributed by Argot Pictures. In the documentary, filmmaker Leslie Cockburn shows how Wall Street gambled with their client’s investments — and lost.

About American casino: here.

On September 17, in the midst of the publicity blitz for his cinematic takedown of the capitalist order, Moore talked with Nation columnist Naomi Klein by phone about the film, the roots of our economic crisis and the promise and peril of the present political moment: here.

2 thoughts on “Films about the US economic crisis


    Art Levine, AlterNet – The AFL-CIO released the results of a disturbing new Peter Hart survey, “Young Workers: A Lost Decade” that found that about a third of workers under 35 live at home with their parents, and they’re far less likely to have health care or job security than they were ten years ago. . . A quarter of young workers say they don’t earn enough to even pay their monthly bills, a 14% rise from the last survey. . . Thirty-five percent are significantly less likely to have health care than older workers, only 31 percent make enough money to pay their bills while putting anything aside in savings, and almost half are more worried than hopeful about their economic future.

    Study: 2 out of 5 working-age Californians jobless

    A report released Sunday says two of five working-age Californians do not have a job, underscoring the challenges in one of the toughest job markets in decades. A new study has found that the last time employment levels among this group were this low was February 1977. The study was done by the California Budget Project, a Sacramento-based nonprofit research group that advocates for lower- and middle-income families. The report said that California now has about the same number of jobs as it did nine years ago, when the state was home to 3.3 million fewer working-age people.

    Reuters – More than 35 million Americans received food stamps in June, up 22 percent from June 2008 and a new record as the country continued to grapple with the worst recession since the Great Depression of the 1930s. The food stamp program, which helps cover the cost of groceries for one in nine Americans, has grown in step with the U.S. unemployment rate which stood at 9.4 percent in July.



    Michael Moore¹s New Film Galvanizes AFL-CIO

    16 September 2009

    Demonstrating his passionate commitment to progressive change and single
    payer health care, Michael Moore held the U.S. premiere of his new film,
    Capitalism, A Love Story, last night in Pittsburgh in conjunction with the
    AFL-CIO national convention. Sponsored by the National Nurses Organizing
    Committee and other unions, Moore gave the day¹s most powerful speech at the
    Convention Center before leading a march through the streets of Pittsburgh
    accompanied by labor and health care activists. The march ended at the movie
    theater, when Moore spoke again to the now roaring crowd.

    The film, which will be available in theaters nationwide on October 2,
    fulfills Moore¹s claim that it represents the fruition of his twenty-year
    film career. Whereas Sicko exposed the conflict between Americans perception
    of caring for others and the lack of a national health care system,
    Capitalism, A Love Story challenges our transformation of the ³free
    enterprise² to holy status. This is not only Moore¹s best film, but it is
    the most politically incendiary film put on the American screen in memory.
    Most important, Moore¹s film will prove an excellent organizing tool for
    unions and other progressive groups, and can be a catalyst for change.

    When Michael Moore began speaking in the early evening yesterday, the first
    full day of the AFL-CIO convention had finished with little excitement or
    breaking news. Preceded by the charismatic Cecil Roberts, International
    President of the United Mine Workers, Moore unleashed a powerful and
    succinct assessment of the nation¹s ³wrong turn² since Ronald Reagan¹s
    election in 1980, and its positive shift in electing Barack Obama last

    Moore¹s talk was part of an event conceived by National Nurses Organizing
    Committee leader Rose Ann DeMoro to bolster the cause of single payer health
    care. And while Moore and union leaders backed President Obama¹s public
    option plan, they made it clear that the fight for single payer ‹ and for a
    state option within the universal health plan ‹ would go on.

    After Moore roused the crowd, he and single payer advocates led a march
    through the streets of Pittsburgh. The marchers chanted slogans and had a
    festive time as they travelled the many blocks from the convention center to
    the theater.

    Upon arrival, Moore was presented with a Steelers T-shirt by Steelworkers
    head Leo Gerard and gave a brief talk introducing the film. But for all of
    his previewing of what the film was about, nobody could have predicted that
    Moore could have gotten away with making a major studio film that so
    explicitly and expressly condemns the capitalist system as practiced in the
    United States.

    Audience Loves Moore¹s Love Story

    I don¹t need a phone survey or Internet poll to know that the audience was
    wild about Moore¹s film: the audience was often so overcome with laughter,
    applause and sheer excitement that it often broke into massive applause,
    with nobody complaining about the drowning out of dialogue due to the

    The film is nothing short of an indictment of a society that allows
    corporations to invest in their workers¹ deaths (and reap profits from
    same!), lays off workers regardless of human cost, and where the best and
    brightest head to investment banking and private profits rather than work
    for the common good, as occurred in the days of Dr. Jonas Salk, who never
    sought to patent or profit from his polio vaccine.

    The fall of Rome, foreclosures, predatory lending, the burdens on the rich
    under 90% top tax brackets for the wealthy ‹ these are but a few of Moore¹s
    always brilliant and thought-provoking look at a society where the top 1%
    owns as much as the bottom 90% of the population combined.

    Who are the films heroes? Start with Ohio Congressmember Marcy Kaptur, the
    workers of Republic Windows and Doors, and former President Franklin

    The villains? As someone who is the same age as Moore, and who once had him
    over to my house to show a slide show on immoral U.S. military intervention
    in Central America, I share his acute distaste for Ronald Reagan. In fact, I
    can never get enough of Ronald Reagan being brought to justice.

    And Michael Moore accomplishes this mission. This is the harshest and
    clearest indictment of Reagan that has ever appeared in a major studio film.
    In fact, Reagan-haters might need to see it multiple times ‹ it¹s that much

    Bankers, Goldman Sachs, Countrywide and the financial industry are also big
    villains, but Connecticut Senator Chris Dodd may despise the film more than
    anyone. Dodd got a clean bill of health from Congressional investigators
    over his Countrywide loans, but Judge Moore is not so forgiving ‹ nor, most
    likely, will be the voters in his state who see this film.

    An Organizing Vehicle

    Moore¹s new film is clearly designed as both a wake-up call and organizing
    vehicle. I cannot stress more strongly the importance of groups reserving
    entire theaters to see this film.

    This is not a film you want to see with a quiet crowd in the standard
    multi-plex. This is a movie where you want to be with people who will be
    yelling at the screen, booing George W. Bush whenever he appears ‹ and as
    brilliant as Moore is on Reagan, he is just as good on Bush ‹ and cheering
    heroes like Kaptur and Senator Bernie Sanders.

    Nobody will view the financial freefall that occurred nearly one year ago
    today the same way after viewing this film. Moore captures the national
    media hysterics perfectly, analogizing it to the fear tactics spawned by

    Imagine if this harsh critique of capitalism¹s moral groundings filled
    theaters across the nation throughout October. Moore has done his part to
    help build a groundswell of resistance; now it¹s activists¹ job to take

    Moore and Obama

    While Moore has generated the most convention excitement so far ‹ and his
    events technically occurred outside the formal schedule ‹ that will change
    today when President Barack Obama speaks in the convention center.

    Moore is a great fan of Obama¹s, and actually shed a tear while voting for
    President last November. His film captures the excitement of Obama¹s
    victory, and shows him to be a counterpoint to the Wall Street domination of
    the White House that Moore traces to the Reagan years.

    Yet Moore shows Obama Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner and Economic Advisor
    Larry Summers to both be part of the culture of greed that has damaged the
    nation. His film labels the former as incompetent, and the latter as a
    greedy fiscal charlatan.

    In a question session following the film, Moore was asked to respond why a
    President he believes is independent of Wall Street would pick those two as
    his top finance guys. Moore responded that he wanted to expose Obama¹s
    reliance on these questionable characters, but that he still trusted that,
    when forced to choose between Wall Street and the people, Obama would make
    the right choice.

    This savvy analysis reflects the views of most of those with whom I spoke at
    the convention. From health care to EFCA, Obama¹s labor base still trusts
    him to do the right thing.

    Randy Shaw

    Randy Shaw is the Editor of Beyond Chron and the author of the new book,
    Beyond the Fields: Cesar Chavez, the UFW and the Struggle for Justice in the
    21st Century (University of California Press).


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