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PAYBACK

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PAYBACK

Margaret Atwood’s brilliant 2008 essay, “Payback: Debt and the Shadow Side of Wealth” is the jumping off point for this fascinating, far-ranging cinematic essay by Jennifer Baichwal, who previously gave us MANUFACTURED LANDSCAPES, a journey into the hellish beauty of Chinese environmental disaster. Here the filmmaker, working from Atwood’s premise, explores the multifaceted notion of debt: financial, economic, moral and spiritual. She visits with both sides in a contemporary Albanian blood feud, involving automatic weaponry; with Conrad Black, the disgraced media mogul, imprisoned for mail fraud; with environmentalists who describe the degree of responsibility BP has taken (not enough) for the Gulf oil spill; and with Florida tomato growers who ultimately reconcile with their workers over improving working conditions. But PAYBACK is no dry academic treatise on conscience. In riveting, literate passages from her writing, Atwood focuses on the urgent issue of the debt we each owe to the larger social good.

CANADA • 201185 MINS. IN ENGLISH, SPANISH & ALBANIAN WITH ENGLISH SUBTITLES • ZEITGEIST FILMS

REVIEWS

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“Making a film about an idea, rather than a political issue or a specific historical incident, is devilishly difficult, but the ingenious Canadian documentarian Jennifer Baichwal pulls it off in PAYBACK, which explores the concept of debt through many of its juridical, environmental and moral ramifications.  It’s ultimately haunting, beautiful and strangely optimistic.”
– Andrew O’Hehir, Salon

“Jennifer Baichwal’s absorbing essay film about the multifaceted nature of debt – economic, political, environmental, psychic.”
– Stuart Klawans, The Nation

“Striking imagery. A thoughtful and compelling meditation on global interconnectivity.”
– Andrew Schenker, Time Out New York

“Ms. Atwood is a witty and astute writer of broad sympathy and wide-ranging curiosity, and the prose of the book, at once commonsensical and counterintuitive, bristles with insight and implication… The testimony is often fascinating, and the stories are gripping.” 
– A.O. Scott, The New York Times

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Q & A with PAYBACK author MARGARET ATWOOD and filmmaker JENNIFER BAICHWAL (Recorded April 25, 2012)