Depending on who you ask, the U.S. economy is doing awesome … or is in serious trouble. Some are celebrating the U.S. as leading the pack in the recovery from the Great Recession, while others (you know, just some folks like the Fed Chair) are warning that rising income inequality may be at its highest level since the Great Depression—and could be the cause of serious economic damage. So what to believe? I have enough trouble balancing my checkbook (okay, okay … I don’t have a checkbook anymore … does anyone still use those things?) let alone pretending to have any idea where the truth lies regarding the wild, hydra-like beast that is our economy. Sometimes I feel like I need to go back to Economics 101 … except for the fact that it would probably be incredibly boring.
Thankfully, there’s WE THE ECONOMY—an awesome new short film series from Morgan Spurlock’s production company. And with WE THE ECONOMY, we can all freshen up on our econ knowledge and be very entertained at the same time. You will even laugh your ass off on more than one occasion. In 22 short films, an all-star team of directors and actors (including numerous Oscar-winners and nominees, Emmy-winners, and film festival vets) tackle essential questions on the economy, using dance, improv, wrestling, cavemen, and of course, long-lashed multicolored alpacas. Yep, these alpacas are precious. But they are also suffering from income inequality that may rival our own. From animation, to comedy, to hard-hitting documentary, these surprising, hilarious and thought-provoking films will keep you on your toes, and might even make you rethink a few (or a lot) of things you thought you knew about our crazy economy.
The film features 22 short films in total … we’ve got 19 (see below) of them ready to go for you ravenous would-be-economists right now, and will let you know when the last 3 are up! Click the titles or images to start watching.
Directed by Morgan Spurlock (CNN Inside Man, Super Size Me)
How did the economy get started? Meet Ugg, Glugg and Tugg, three enterprising cave men who accidentally invented trade, marketing and the base elements of the modern market economy.
Short interview with Morgan Spurlock on the making of Cave-O-nomics:
Directed by Jon M. Chu (Step Up 2 & 3, G.I: Joe: Retaliation)
Why is the law of supply and demand so powerful? A whimsical tale of love, dance and the economic concept of supply and demand. Bored in class, JONATHAN and KRISTIN are woken up by our friendly NARRATOR who helps guide them on an adventure in economics and… um… dance.
Short interview with Jon M. Chu on the making of Supply and Dance, Man:
Directed by Chris Henchy (The Other Guys, Land of the Lost)
How do we measure the economy? Two economists settle their differences- in the professional wrestling ring. Watch and cheer as Simon Kuznets and M. Joseph Meehan square off in a testosterone-fueled battle over how to measure the economy.
Short interview with Chris Henchy on the making of GDP SMACKDOWN:
Directed by Ramin Bahrani (99 Homes, Man Push Cart)
How does Government regulate the economy? In an idyllic suburban neighborhood, Jerry (Patton Oswalt) runs his big business lemonade stand and has the market cornered – until ten-year old Addie (Taylor Buck) opens her own stand across the street. Competition equals war, and both sides use – and abuse – a government regulator (Mo Collins) to try and win. In the end, one special customer (Werner Herzog) will decide their fate.
Directed by Adrian Grenier (Entourage, Teenage Paparazzo)
Are natural resources vital to the economy? Why should nature be taken into account when looking at the economy as a whole? A Bee’s Invoice uncovers and incorporates the hidden value of natural capital in the measurement of our economy.
Short interview with Adrian Grenier on the making of A BEE’S INVOICE; THE HIDDEN VALUE IN NATURE:
Directed by Catherine Hardwicke (Twilight, Thirteen)
What is the Federal Reserve? When Federal Reserve Chairman Rob Rafaelson awakes with amnesia only moments before a big press conference, his children, maid and intern must explain the Fed to him using the only thing handy: the children’s toys.
Directed by James Schamus (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon)
What is the real value of a dollar? You think that a dollar bill is money and that banks are where your cash is stored and safeguarded. Well, you’re wrong. Like, really wrong.
Short interview with James Schamus on the making of That Film About Money:
Directed by James Schamus (Brokeback Mountain)
You think that banks are where your cash is stored and safeguard and that a dollar bill is money. Well, you’re wrong. Like, really wrong.
Directed by Lee Hirsch (Bully, Amandla!, A Revolution in Four Part Harmony)
What causes a recession? Choreographed by Pilobolus dance company and narrated by economic historian John Steele Gordon, Lee Hirsch’s “Recession” mounts an entertaining and educational look at what causes an economic recession and how recovery is stimulated.
Directed by Joe Berlinger (Brother’s Keeper, Paradise Lost Trilogy)
How does Wall Street influence the economy? On the heels of the financial crisis, Wall Street for some has become synonymous with corruption and greed. Director Joe Berlinger takes us to the epicenter of the financial world – the New York Stock Exchange – to learn how Wall Street really influences the economy and impacts all of our lives.
Short interview with Joe Berlinger on the making of The Street:
Directed by Jessica Yu (Last Call at the Oasis, In the Realms of the Unreal)
Why is our tax system so complicated? Teachers have long relied on educational cartoons with catchy songs to simplify everything from grammar to government. Can a cartoon conquer a challenge like today’s tax system, with its ever-changing, 75,000 pages of laws? With retro flair, TAXATION NATION looks into how our tax system does – and doesn’t – work.
Short interview with Jessica Yu on the making of Taxation Nation:
Directed by Marshall Curry (Street Fight, If a Tree Falls)
Why do we have budget deficits and a national debt? In this free-wheeling animated film, you’ll see how Congress and public officials use and manage debt, and why it matters to you.
Short interview with Marshall Curry on the making of An Animated Film on the Debt & the Deficit:
Directed by Barbara Kopple (Harlan County, USA, Shut Up and Sing)
Where do our tax dollars go? We Americans spend a lot of time arguing over how our tax dollars are spent. But do we focus on the right things? Or have we been misdirected? Two-time Oscar winning director Barbara Kopple focuses her lens on answers that many may find startling.
Directed by Rachel Grady & Heidi Ewing (Jesus Camp, The Boys of Baraka)
Why does the U.S. fund foreign aid? The United States spends approximately $37 billion dollars a year on foreign aid – just under 1% of our federal budget. THE FOREIGN AID PARADOX zeroes in on food aid to Haiti and how it affects American farming and shipping interests as well as Haiti’s own agricultural markets. The result: a surprising study in unintended consequences. Think U.S. foreign aid is just a big giveaway to other countries? Think again. Often, it benefits farmers, manufacturers and shippers right here at home. But U.S. aid is always good for the countries we give it to, right? Well, it’s not so simple.
Directed by Bob Balaban (Gosford Park, The Exonerated)
What is the global trade system? What does it mean to have a globalized economy? And is it good for us? Bob Balaban wrangles seven experts to break it all down as a troupe of comedic actors enliven the commentary.
Directed by Albert Hughes (The Book of Eli, Menace II Society)
What happens when jobs disappear? Detroit has been the poster child for the loss of well-paid manufacturing jobs, but this trend impacts communities all over the country. How does a great American city bounce back?
Directed by Miao Wang (Beijing Taxi, Yellow Ox Mountain)
Is China’s boom good for our economy? “Made by China in America” turns a cinematic lens on the interconnected narratives of everyday workers, leaders and business executives, and local community members in South Carolina, providing a nuanced perspective on China’s economic boom, version 2.0, and its promising impact on the U.S. economy.
Short interview with Miao Wang on the making of Made by China in America:
Directed by Jehane Noujaim (The Square, Control Room)
What do human rights have to do with the economy? As consumers in a rapidly growing world economy, we have an insatiable appetite for the next greatest electronic gadget, like smartphones and TVs. But can we consume cheap imported products without exploiting someone in the supply chain?
Directed by Adam McKay (Anchorman 1 & 2, Funny or Die)
Is Inequality Growing? In a magical land inhabited by long lashed, multi-colored Alpacas who love lollipops, rainbows and friendship, there’s a yawning divide in wealth distribution…what’s behind the inequality gap?
Short interview with Adam McKay on the making of The Unbelievably Sweet Alpacas! :