The Arty Semite

An Inconvenient Economic Truth

By Renee Ghert-Zand

  • Print
  • Share Share
Courtesy Sundance Film Festival

“Inequality For All,” a new documentary film premiering this week at the Sundance Film Festival does for economic inequality what “An Inconvenient Truth” did for climate change.

While “An Inconvenient Truth” had Al Gore expounding on the causes and effects of global warming, this new movie has former labor secretary and current UC Berkeley professor Robert Reich explaining the global economic forces affecting our lives and arguing that widening income inequality is a great — if not, the greatest — threat to our economy and democracy.

Sebastian Dungan, one of the producers of “Inequality For All,” has no problem with the comparison between the two films. In fact, he told The Arty Semite in a recent phone interview that the climate change game-changer served as an inspiration for him, his producing partner Jen Chaiken and the film’s director, Jacob Kornbluth. “’An Inconvenient Truth’ has a polar bear, and our film has middle class families,” Dungan said.

“Inequality For All” uses sleek graphics, archival material, verité footage and interviews of experts and regular working people to make its point. But it is Reich who stands at the film’s center. Seen lecturing to overflowing university classes, interacting with students and speaking directly into the camera, the diminutive Reich is the vital force of the narrative. “Bob’s the little guy fighting for the little guy, with an important message that needs to be heard,” Dungan said. “He’s been a man on a mission for the past 30 years.”

Dungan says the production team knew they had to pursue this film following an “aha moment” upon reading Reich’s 2010 book, “Aftershock: The Next Economy and America’s Future.” “For the first time, I had a true understanding of global economic forces that effect our lives,” Dungan recalled. “He is a genius at explaining complicated things simply.”

The producer, who until now had made only dramatic films, took the project on because of the possibility for it to have an impact. “I really think it has the potential to go beyond documentary TV to become theatrical, win awards, and spark debate,” he said. “It can become a reason for people to talk about the issue, to crystallize the debate.”

Viewers will learn from Reich about topics like wage stagnation, consolidated wealth, manufacturing, financial instruments, capital markets and globalization, but they will also be inspired by his tireless efforts. “Tikkun Olam is a quality central to him,” Dungan remarked. “His calling is to fix problems, to make a better world. He is the person most genuinely motivated by this that I have ever met.”

It is early yet for Dungan and his colleagues to be able to tell whether “Inequality For All,” which is in the U.S. Documentary Competition at Sundance, will make the impression they hope it will. But one reaction at an early screening bodes well for the film’s success. Dungan said that Reich’s son was there, and after viewing the film, he told his father that this was the first time he truly understood all of his ideas. Dungan was standing nearby and watched and heard the conversation. “Reich had tears in his eyes.”

Watch the Kickstarter video for ‘Inequality for All’:


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Sundance, Robert Reich, Renee Ghert-Zand, Jacob Kornbluth, Film, Inequality for All

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • “'I made a new friend,' my son told his grandfather later that day. 'I don’t know her name, but she was very nice. We met on the bus.' Welcome to Israel."
  • A Jewish female sword swallower. It's as cool as it sounds (and looks)!
  • Why did David Menachem Gordon join the IDF? In his own words: "The Israel Defense Forces is an army that fights for her nation’s survival and the absence of its warriors equals destruction from numerous regional foes. America is not quite under the threat of total annihilation… Simply put, I felt I was needed more in Israel than in the United States."
  • Leonard Fein's most enduring legacy may be his rejection of dualism: the idea that Jews must choose between assertiveness and compassion, between tribalism and universalism. Steven M. Cohen remembers a great Jewish progressive:
  • BREAKING: Missing lone soldier David Menachem Gordon has been found dead in central Israel. The Ohio native was 21 years old.
  • “They think they can slap on an Amish hat and a long black robe, and they’ve created a Hasid." What do you think of Hollywood's portrayal of Hasidic Jews?
  • “I’ve been doing this since I was a teenager. I didn’t think I would have to do it when I was 90.” Hedy Epstein fled Nazi Germany in 1933 on a Kinderstransport.
  • "A few decades ago, it would have been easy to add Jews to that list of disempowered victims. I could throw in Leo Frank, the victim of mob justice; or otherwise privileged Jewish men denied entrance to elite universities. These days, however, we have to search a lot harder." Are you worried about what's going in on #Ferguson?
  • Will you accept the challenge?
  • In the six years since Dothan launched its relocation program, 8 families have made the jump — but will they stay? We went there to find out:
  • "Jewish Israelis and West Bank Palestinians are witnessing — and living — two very different wars." Naomi Zeveloff's first on-the-ground dispatch from Israel:
  • This deserves a whistle: Lauren Bacall's stylish wardrobe is getting its own museum exhibit at Fashion Institute of Technology.
  • How do you make people laugh when they're fighting on the front lines or ducking bombs?
  • "Hamas and others have dredged up passages form the Quran that demonize Jews horribly. Some imams rail about international Jewish conspiracies. But they’d have a much smaller audience for their ravings if Israel could find a way to lower the flames in the conflict." Do you agree with J.J. Goldberg?
  • How did Tariq Abu Khdeir go from fun-loving Palestinian-American teen to international icon in just a few short weeks? http://jd.fo/d4kkV
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.