Few topics are more boring yet vital to our daily lives than economics. The documentaries on today’s list deal with matters of finance in ways that are manageable and understandable to the common layman. They reveal the workings of money on a global scale. They also take on a variety of political and ideological views.
Credit is a financial tool that can be quite beneficial, but it can also be a huge problem if not utilized correctly. Maxed Out is a 2006 documentary produced by James D. Scurlock, uncovering the corruption and mismanagement of personal debt throughout the US. It reveals the downsides to relying on credit cards, and was produced prior to the great financial crisis of 2008.
Inside Job, however, deals with the financial crisis head on. The film lays blame on banking regulations of the time, as well as the power those banks held over financial and political systems. Many reforms mentioned in the film were put in place by the so-called Dodd-Frank Law. It’s an interesting piece, one that takes a snapshot of our country in a difficult era.
Jiro Dreams of Sushi
Running a small business is often praised, sometimes in damning ways. This film tells the story about one such business owner: Jiro Ono, 85-year old operator of a sushi restaurant. Ono reflects on his career and his legacy, making for a personal and deeply-moving story that shows just how difficult it can be to run a business of your own, fighting to provide for yourself and others.
The Ascent of Money
This film deals with capitalism on much broader terms, tracing its origins and the impact it has on our lives. It may seem like capitalism has always existed, but it’s a historic and fairly recent phenomenon. The film is based on a book by historian Niall Ferguson, and is an ambitious project that everyone should see in order to better understand our nation’s economic system.
The True Cost
The True Cost is a documentary from producer Andrew Morgan, studying the state of the fashion industry and its frequent outsourcing of work to other countries. The crew travels to Cambodia and Bangladesh, visiting factories that rely on inhumane conditions to achieve low-cost production. The fashion industry is a multibillion dollar beast, and often relies on cheap labor and harsh conditions to cut costs. This piece is a damning one, but quite an important watch.
White collar criminality isn’t always the most interesting of subjects. However, this film succeeds in making quite a thrilling topic. It tells the tale of Attorney Marc Dreir, who embezzled more than $400 million from hedge funds and private individuals in multi-year crime spree. Author Marc H. Simon met and spoke with him about the process, and the details of his life story. Dreier was born into a position of affluence and education, but turned to a life of crime out of greed and the need to fund a lavish lifestyle.
The End of Poverty?
Author Phillppe Diaz tackles the topic of poverty and how to possibly eradicate it for good. He spoke with economists, policymakers and businessmen for their unique takes on dealing with the crushing problem we currently face. At the heart of his film is a simple, yet devastating question: with so much prosperity in the world, why are some still living in poverty?