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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

MOVIE REVIEW
The End Of Poverty?

The Have-Nots And The Have-Nevers?


A woman walking the roads in Kenya during Philippe Diaz's documentary "The End Of Poverty?", opening today in L.A.
Cinema Libre Studio

By Omar P.L. Moore/PopcornReel.com
Wednesday, November 25, 2009

"The End Of Poverty?" asks the question, "in a world with so much wealth, why is there still so much poverty?"  It's a question that's more or less rhetorical yet elicits food for thought.  Philippe Diaz directs this compelling and important documentary, and if he doesn't devastate you with the cold hard truth about poverty and what he firmly and persuasively argues is its man-made origins, his film will create a reservoir of unyielding anger within. 

Opening today in Los Angeles at the Laemmle Monica 4-Plex and Culver Plaza Theatres (while continuing in New York City) Mr. Diaz's film is a perfect and necessary counterpoint to the cheery celluloid entertainment on display just in time for the holiday season, which begins in earnest tomorrow with Thanksgiving. 

Narrated by Martin Sheen, "The End Of Poverty?" travels to Bolivia, Venezuela, Kenya, Tanzania, Brazil and the United States to investigate the question and bring to the viewer's attention a series of sobering and alarming stories of those in extreme poverty: families living on far less than a dollar a day, forced to drink dirty water or go completely without.  Family businesses uprooted by Europe and America, by political and elite strictures and corporations from Europe and the U.S., as a continuing evidence of colonialism, neo-colonialism, even neo-liberalism.  The wrenching stories are interspersed with interviews and analysis from some of the world's most esteemed and renowned figures on global politics and the economy (just listen to the powerful explanation of exploitations of "regime change" from John Perkins, author of Confessions Of An Economic Hitman.)

The images Mr. Diaz captures are unforgettable in many respects, with his cinematography capturing blight without glorifying it.  If there's any ray of hope at all for those subjected to inequity and inhumane conditions, it's that the people know how they got into such dire straits -- and hardly by their own doing.  Periodically, as if to punctuate and underscore the harsh stories, statistics hit the screen: in Africa during the nineties, the number of people surviving on less than a dollar a day rose from 273 million to 328 million; more than one billion people today live in the slums of the southern hemisphere, while much of the northern hemisphere is prospering.  The problem of poverty is also presented as an environmental crisis.  Capitalism is analyzed and attacked as a substantial ingredient of global greed and disaster, though in deeper, fathomable detail than Michael Moore's "Capitalism: A Love Story" did last month.

Instructive and lacking condescension, "The End Of Poverty?" isn't preachy or self-righteous.  If anything it's calmly damning, and plays more as a history lesson than it does a documentary, which makes it required viewing for students and regular moviegoers alike.  If you've toyed with the idea of reading Howard Zinn's epic and incisive book A People's History Of The United States, you should strongly consider this must-see film, especially if you find yourself feeling anesthetized by the big-budget holiday movies.  Simply put, "The End Of Poverty?" should be in theaters across the country and the world, not just in a city on both U.S. coasts.  It will give you something to be thankful for -- even if your own economic situation at present isn't stellar -- and something to be outraged about.


With: Clifford Cobb (also one of the the film's executive producers), Amartya Sen, Joseph Stiglitz, Susan George, Eric Toussaint, Michael Watts, Chalmers Johnson, William Easterly, Joshua Farley, Miloon Kothari, Maria Luisa Mondonca, Nimrod Arackha, Miriam Campos, John Christensen, Pablo Ferandez, Nora Castaneda, Eric Mgendi, Maria Luisa Mendonca, Mashengu Wa Mwachofi, Mshindi Godfrey Ngao, Maria Marcela Olivera Edgardo Lander and many more.

"The End Of Poverty?" is not rated by the Motion Picture Association Of America.  The film contains a couple of graphic images.  The film's running time is one hour and 44 minutes.  In English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Swahili and local dialects with English subtitles.       


Read more movie reviews and stories from Omar here.

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