Microsoft co-founder Paul G. Allen’s Vulcan Productions and Morgan Spurlock’s Cinelan have teamed up to make We the Economy: 20 Short Films You Can’t Afford to Miss available for free across over fifty platforms, be they mobile apps, digital streaming, television or even brick-n-mortar movie theaters. Twenty directors, working with ten economic experts, each address twenty essential questions in films running between five and eight minutes. These are the basic questions—about what money is, how it works and for whom—that every American citizen needs to know the answers to. And as Spurlock tells the Hollywood Reporter‘s Hilary Lewis: “My biggest goal was getting these films simultaneously in front of every American wherever they watch content.”
- Ramin Bahrani‘s Lemonade War.
- Bob Balaban‘s Globalization… Who Cares?
- Joe Berlinger‘s The Street.
- Jon M. Chu‘s Supply and Dance, Man.
- Marshall Curry‘s Amazing Animated Film on the Debt and the Deficit.
- Rachel Grady and Heidi Ewing‘s The Foreign Aid Paradox.
- Adrian Grenier‘s A Bee’s Invoice.
- Catherine Hardwicke‘s Fed Head.
- Mary Harron‘s This Won’t Hurt a Bit.
- Chris Henchy‘s GDP Smackdown.
- Lee Hirsch‘s Recession.
- Albert Hughes‘s City on the Rise.
- Steve James‘s The Value of Work.
- Barbara Kopple‘s Your Tax Dollars at Work.
- Adam McKay‘s The Unbelievably Sweet Alpacas!
- Jehane Noujaim‘s Supply Chain Reaction.
- James Schamus‘s That Film About Money and That Second Part About That Film…
- Morgan Spurlock‘s Cave-O-nomics.
- Miao Wang‘s Made by China in America.
- Jessica Yu‘s Taxation Nation.
Listening. Spurlock tells Variety‘s Ted Johnson “that another challenge was that even though the project was about the economy, no one was going to make much money on this project.”
Update: For Indiewire, Michele Debczak talks with Spurlock and Adam McKay about bringing the funny to their contributions.
Updates, 10/23: “The good news is that We the Economy is a lot more interesting and independent than a comparable project, America’s Economic System, prepared by the Advertising Council in 1976 to coincide with the US Bicentennial,” notes David D’Arcy at Artinfo. “That earlier project was a corporate Cub Scout meeting—all tax-deductible as a donation to and by the Ad Council. It was Big Philanthropy at its worst, messaging at its dumbest and most pro-corporate. We the Economy isn’t breaking down any doors with its unthreatening capsules of eco-info, but it shows that film can bring imagination to the dismal science.”
For Jonathan Crow at Open Culture, the “clear stand out of the bunch… is Ramin Bahrani’s Lemonade War. Bahami tackles the potentially dreary issue of business regulation by telling a tale of two rival lemonade stands. One is run by a corrupt slob—played by Patton Oswalt—and the other is run by a whip smart ten-year-old girl. Though the girl doesn’t have the money or connections that her rival has, she more than makes up for it with moxie and business acumen. This, sadly, proves to be not enough. When she calls the government regulator about some of her rival’s truly unhygienic practices, she discovers the regulator is in her competition’s pocket and soon she’s driven out of business. Things look hopeless for her until a neighborhood hero, played by none other than Werner Herzog (!), comes to her rescue.”