Thursday, February 11, 2010

Movie with Abe: The End of Poverty?

The End of Poverty?
Directed by Philippe Diaz
Released November 13, 2009

Make sure to underline the question mark at the end of the title. This comprehensive documentary doesn’t purport to suggest that poverty is in fact nearing its end, but instead takes an extensive look back at the reasons it came about and has persisted. Sample solutions are suggested, and it’s the kind of film that, if it can explode with popularity, hopes to have a major impact on the world and change the way things work. If seen by enough people and implemented on a grand enough scale, this film could in fact signal the end of poverty. The good news to do with this otherwise unoptimistic film is that it’s already in re-release at the Cinema Village theatre in Manhattan.

What the film certainly succeeds in doing is tracing the staggeringly historic roots of poverty and in proving that it isn’t a small problem. It’s not merely one city, state, or country that is spotlighted and surveyed, and the film includes interviews in languages such as English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, and Swahili. Martin Sheen narrates the long history of how the present situation has arisen, and personal accounts of situations are presented to drive home the seriousness of their plight. It’s not something that’s taken lightly or brushed off, and this film fully intends to be hard-hitting in the breadth of its investigative reporting.

As far as documentaries go in terms of fine filmmaking, “The End of Poverty” does well. It’s not simply ideas that are being thrown at the viewer, but rather an attempt to craft a compelling and engaging argument. The extent of the research undertaken here is clearly visible and demonstrated through the timeline presented in the film. It’s a project that works both as a documentary story and a documentary film. Its collection of facts and figures is presented in a thoroughly intriguing and persuasive format. Furthermore, it’s an important investigation into a crisis that is hardly unique to any one period in time or any one place in the world, and therefore its universality is perhaps its most effective factor.


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