Sunday, 14 August 2011

The Thin White Dude's Reviews - Debtocracy

Directed by: Katerina Kitidi
Aris Hatzistefanou

Produced by: Kostas Efimeros

Written by: Katerina Kitidi
Aris Hatzistefanou

Music by: Giannis Aggelakas

Release date(s): April 6, 2011

Running time: 74 minutes

Country: Greece

Language: Greek

So, ladies and germs, I've finally started watching some movies online this year. I know, it is not quite the movie experience one might hope for, but sure, if the screen is close enough to your face you can pretend you're in the cinema. Just kidding, although I think that the internet can be a good source for watching films, particularly those that are harder to find. Last year, I watched Dogtooth and A Serbian Film online before they found DVD release, and the fantastic website was my source for Collapse and last year's winner for Best Documentary Restrepo.

It was using the Top Documentary Films source that I was able to find today's film Debtocracy. The film's focus is the ongoing national debt crisis in Greek and the potential future solutions to this ongoing issue. Funded by online donators wishes to see a documentary on this topic, what was meant to be a short subject became a feature-length film and upon it's release under a Creative Commons BY-SA 3.0 License online has become both a Greek national and international sensation for it's depiction of debt and recession. Going into Debtocracy, I knew nothing about it, and simply let the film take me where it wanted to.

Given that it's topic does involve both national and international economics, one would expect that Debtocracy is a well-researched piece and there is no question that it is indeed just that. Revealing the history of Greek's debt issues, we find that in the 190 years of the country's existence, it has only been a lender once, during German occupation, and for the rest of the time it has been the recipient of loans. Research such as this is important in getting to the root of the country's problems and in this regard, it is successful. The filmmaker's Katerina Kitidi and Aris Hatzistefanou also draw parallel's of the Greek crisis in the Argentinian economic crisis at the end of the beginning of the new millenium and suggests the case of Ecuador as an example of potential solutions. This is textbook, sound documentary filmmaking that in itself parallels the three-act structure of a screenplay. It puts us in context of the Greek crisis, displays a mirror image that is a reflection of their country's current state of affairs, and suggests a solution to the issue: it is a perfectly appropriate and logical approach. Furthermore, it is well edited by Leonidas Vatikiotis, who presents to us the filmmaker's argument in a wide variety of manners. Also, the contributors who the filmmaker's have selected are from a wide variety of backgrounds and view the situation from different perspectives, yet all are in agreement that something is fundamentally wrong Finally, to put the film in an even wider context, debt is an issue that extends to all countries, not just those that live under the capitalist banner. As such, Debtocracy is a film that importantly reaches out to something universal in the world we live in. This is what a good documentary (or any type of film for that matter) should be doing, catering to a wide audience and touching upon universal real-life issues.

As admirable as Detocracy is, and I certainly do admire it for the views that it takes on the solution of national debt, there are a number of problems with the movie. Unfortunately, it is one of those movies that I think will alienate a few people because it is a case of a factual mortar attack. We are absolutely bombarded with facts and figures, and I did find myself having to really try to remember what certain sections of the film were about. At only seventy-four minutes, I still found the film occasionally troublesome and overlong. In comparison to Anvil! The Story Of Anvil, my Best Picture of 2009 and a film of roughly the same length, Debtocracy does not really cater to keeping people entertained and despite being a bit of a political creature found myself peter off to an indifferent mood of not giving a damn. The film does struggle to maintain sufficient interest in what is an important issue, which is a real problem considering it's running time. I fear that as a result less people will want to see it.

There is no doubt that Debtocracy is an admirable film for the way in which it was funded by people's demands to see these issues depicted. The filmmaker's present a strong argument that is well thought out and meticulously researched. Also, it is well-structured and a balanced film, with some strong editing by Leonidas Vatikiotis. It is a good film, but it is certainly not without it's problems. We are bombarded with facts and statistics and barely given room to breath, and despite being by all means a short feature-length film, it feels a lot longer and fails to keep me as entertained or as interested as I should be. I wish I could urge people to go and see it more than this, but I would be lying if I said it was any better than the film I have presented to you now.

The Thin White Dude's Prognosis - 6.4/10

The Thin White Dude's Self-Diagnosis - Needing (for this film to be better than it is)

No comments: