The poster depicts a “Wall Street” executive standing on a huge pile of money and the tagline being “The film that cost over $20 Trillion to make.” The documentary that openly criticized and blamed the US Government and its regulatory policies, surprisingly won the Best Documentary Feature Award at the Oscars last week. (The Academy has a history of snubbing those film-makers who picturise the United States in a derogatory manner, Avatar being a recent example.)
Charles Ferguson, who directed and produced this documentary, has covered a lot of ground and historical developments as he tries to capture almost a decade long conspiracy behind the 2008 wall-street crisis, in 120 minutes. The style of narration, the gripping editing, the sequence of information all make this an interesting watch. It is a wonderful mix of “One-on-one interviews”, “News Articles” , “Graphical statistics”, “Flow-chart diagrams” and “Court-trail videos” that are used as tools of narration, the narrator being MATT DAMON.
Alright, so we have the de-faulters and scamsters on one side, the whistle blowers on the other side (people who foresaw this disaster and warned the US regulators) and we also have the victims telling us their versions of the crisis. And of-course there were a few people who declined to comment / give their opinions for the documentary. It describes the involvement of big-shots ranging from chief economic advisors like Larry Summers, Federal Reserve Heads Ben Bernanke & Henry Paulson in framing policies that lead to massive sub-prime bubble. The documentary claims that the CEO’s and Board Members of the Investment banks that went bust earned huge profits during the 2003 to 2008 ride, however post the crisis they did not pay up even a penny in return for their greed and for treating their clients unethically for personal short-term profits. They ultimately got to keep the personal assets and remuneration that was earned by betting against their own clients’ investments. It also sharply criticizes Harvard and Columbia universities for their inaction against their economics professors who were on the company boards of these failed investment banks.
And yes it has punch lines too “Its a Wall-Street-Government!” claims a whistle blower. “Can we turn this off for a minute please” pleads an ex Federal Reserve employee. Lies, Greed and De-regulation continue to haunt the Wall-Street and the director appeals to the viewers to stand up against this. In the end we get to see the Statue of Liberty on the big screen when the narrator says “Some things are worth fighting for” and then the credits start rolling, compelling the viewers to think.
All your questions on the Sub-prime crisis and the global economic recession (if un-answered till date) shall get addressed in the due course of this documentary feature.