International Feature Documentaries
How much inequality is too much?
740 Park Ave, New York City, is home to some of the wealthiest Americans. Over the Harlem River, 10 minutes to the north, is the other Park Avenue in South Bronx, where more than half the population needs food stamps, and children are 20 times more likely to be killed. In the last 30 years, inequality has rocketed in the US – the American Dream only applies to those with money to lobby politicians for friendly bills on Capitol Hill. Director: Alex Gibney Producer: Blair Foster
How to do good?
From Live Aid to Make Poverty History, celebrities have become activists against poverty. Bob Geldof and Bono have been the most prominent voices advocating on behalf of the poor. But have their concerts and campaigns really lifted millions out of poverty? Geldof, Bono and Bill Gates speak candidly about the ‘games’ involved in their years of lobbying, and how they played to politicians’ weaknesses for starry glitz and popularity. Director: Bosse Lindquist Producer: David Herdies
Are women better at getting out of poverty than men?
The Barefoot College takes uneducated middle-aged women from poor communities and trains them to become solar engineers in order to create power and jobs in their communities. The college’s 6-month program brings together women from all over the world. Learning about electrical components and soldering without being able to read, write or understand English is the easy part. Directors: Mona Eldaief & Jehane Noujaim Producer: Mette Heide
Is it worse to be born poor than to die poor?
130 million babies are born each year, and not one of them decides where they’ll be born or how they’ll live. In Cambodia, you’re likely to be born to a family living on less than $1/day. In Sierra Leone, chances of surviving the first year are half those of the worldwide average. In the US, Star’s new baby could well be one of the 1.6 million homeless children now living in the streets. This film takes a worldwide trip to meet the newest generation. Director: Brian Hill Producer: Katie Bailiff
What does an education get you?
In ancient times in China, education was the only way out of poverty. In recent times it has been the best way. China’s economic boom and talk of the merits of hard work have created an expectation that to study is to escape poverty. But these days, China’s higher education system only leads to jobs for a few, educating a new generation to unemployment and despair. Director: Weijun Chen Producer: Don Edkins
Do we know what poverty is?
The poor may always have been with us, but attitudes towards them have changed. Beginning in the Neolithic Age, this film takes us through the changing world of poverty through animated dream sequences that illustrate how people have become poor through the ages. What can we say about poverty today? There are still very poor people, to be sure, but the new poverty has more to do with inequality. Director: Ben Lewis Producer: Femke Volting
How do you feed the world?
75% of Mali’s population are farmers, but rich land-hungry nations like China and Saudi Arabia are leasing Mali’s land in order to turn large areas into agribusiness farms. Many Malian peasants do not welcome these efforts, seeing them as yet another manifestation of imperialism. As Mali experiences a military coup, the developers are scared off – but can Mali’s farmers combat food shortages and escape poverty on their own terms? Directors: Hugo Berkeley & Osvalde Lewat Producer: Eli Cane
How much profit is fair?
Ruschlikon is a village in Switzerland with a very low tax rate and very wealthy residents. But it receives more tax revenue than it can use. This is largely thanks to one resident – Ivan Glasenberg, CEO of Glencore, whose copper mines in Zambia are not generating a large bounty tax revenue for the Zambians. Zambia has the 3rd largest copper reserves in the world, but 60% of the population live on less than $1 a day and 80% are unemployed. Director: Christoffer Guldbrandsen Producer: Henrik Veileborg
Ontario Short Documentaries
She doesn’t have much, but it’s worth a lot. The object Amy treasures most.
What are a poor person’s treasures? For many, a ‘treasure’ has monetary or material value. For people living in poverty, a treasure can represent a link with a very private and very special personal dream world. Can those dreams survive on the street? Director: Igor Malakhov. Executive Producer: Shelley Saywell.
The People’s Guru
The working poor are too busy working to be lazy.
Is hard work enough to lift someone out of poverty? A common stereotype is that poor people are poor because they are lazy. The other side of the coin is that poverty is hard work, requiring more than one job just to survive. 50-year-old Simran Khalsa is one of the working poor. He holds down two jobs and still can’t make ends meet. Director: Geoff Bowie
Far from home. Alone. Broke. How an Inuit woman copes with life in big city Ottawa.
This intimate photo essay features Daisa Allurut, an Inuit woman from Arctic Bay, Nunavut, who is trying to rebuild her life, far from home, in Ottawa. Every day she struggles with the fact that her children now live with foster parents. Daisa tells us about her personal fight against poverty and alcohol, about how her life unravelled once she moved away from home, and how it feels to be an Inuit person living in the nation's capital. Director: Sonia Boileau
How do exorbitant electricity rates contribute to poverty in Northern Ontario?
Why do residents of Moose Factory, a northern Ontario Cree community, pay so much more for hydro-electric power than residents in southern Ontario, when the hydro dams on James Bay are practically in their backyard? How do exorbitant hydro rates contribute to poverty in the north? Director: Phoebe Sutherland
Teo in Toronto
A migrant worker from Mexico finds poverty in a vegetable garden in Toronto. Or does he?
Ten years ago director Min Sook Lee shot a documentary about migrant farm workers in southwestern Ontario. She reconnects with migrant worker Teodoro Martinez as he leaves his farm in Leamington, Ontario, and travels to Toronto to meet with community activists to talk about poverty and food security. The film focuses on Teodoro meeting a group of homeless youth who grow their own food in a community garden located in the Toronto neighbourhood of Parkdale. Director: Min Sook Lee
No Place Like Home
Middle-aged men out of work and out of sight. Where do they go?
The Good Neighbours' Club is a place of comfort and community for men struggling to make ends meet. Meet two regulars who don’t fit the stereotype of people living in poverty. They could be your neighbours. This brief glimpse into their lives brings the reality of poverty close to home. Director: Karen O’Donnell
To the End of Poverty
Homeless twice, musician Ryan Kamstra writes an anthem for the marginal people of the city.
This film features a song by the Indie "pop art" band Tomboyfriend. It’s an exuberant anthem for those who live on the fringe of society. It’s something band leader Ryan Kamstra knows about, revealing how he coped with his own homelessness in his life. He credits his inspiration for this song to economist Jeffrey Sachs’ book, "The End of Poverty". Director: Adrienne Amato
How Can a Warm Man Understand a Cold Man?
How does a rising star end up on the street? A first person account.
Vac Verikaitis catalogues his own personal descent from successful television producer to another face in the lineup for a meal at a Toronto shelter. Today, alone and living on disability, Vac is wracked by severe depression. This is an intimate and painful effort to share his own story and perhaps connect audiences to the reality of a life in poverty. Director: Vac Verikaitis
Will housing the homeless effect real change? Landlords trying to make a difference.
“At Home” is an ambitious national social experiment studying the impact of housing on homeless people with mental health issues. We follow one of the dedicated social workers whose job it is to find apartments for some of the hard-core homeless. This is an exclusive peek at one chapter of the story being followed by the National Film Board of Canada. athome.nfb.ca Director: Manfred Becker
Is the Native cigarette trade the solution to poverty on First Nation reserves?
"Smoke Traders" is an excerpt from the documentary of the same name that makes an argument that tobacco sales should be a source of wealth for First Nation people struggling to stay out of poverty. The full length documentary premieres on TVO October 24 at 9pm and features First Nation communities battling governments and the RCMP intent on shutting down what it calls an "illegal" trade in cigarettes. Director: Jeff Dorn
Sarah Helps Out
How does a 9-year old girl inspire a food drive in her community? One idea at a time.
Sara is a 9-year-old with a mission: she wants to help the local food bank feed hungry people in her community. Her efforts prompt her neighbours and friends to collect more than a ton and a half of food. Sara’s food bank campaign earns a TVO Super Citizen award. Director: Julie Patterson
International Short Documentaries
In Your Hands
A Colombian favella is home to many dark possibilities: violence and drugs are only two. But poverty is not going to stop Yair. Follow him on a tour of his neighbourhood and you’ll be surprised where he leads you. Yair’s main lesson: it’s in your hands to achieve your dreams. Director: Lucas Nieto
Every year hundreds of millions of tons of food are thrown away. Why? Director: Valentin Thurn
Wilbur Sargunaraje, India’s first You Tube star is famous for his video that showed westerners how to use an eastern toilet. In his irreverent style, Wilbur looks at poverty and inequality in India. In this episode Wilbur offers a solution to the problem of poverty. Director: Adrien Roche
All across Latin America, families from different social backgrounds spend enormous amounts of money when a girl’s 15th birthday arrives. A big party is held to introduce her to society, as it marks the transition from childhood to young womanhood. This is the story of Blanca, who found the opportunity to emancipate herself by helping the poorer girls of the village participate in the festivities. Director: Alicia Cano
Kibera, the biggest slum in Nairobi, has little greenery. We negotiate the tight passages between the cinderblock shanties and eventually emerge on a field of green. It is covered in upright sacks with plants growing in all directions. Morris demonstrates how a single sack filled with earth can help feed his family for a year. Director: Michelle Mellara & Alessandro Rossi
A family in the UK has been supporting a child in Uganda via a charity. The father and small daughter travel from UK to Uganda to see if charity makes a difference: to them or to the child. Director: Tomas Sheridan
Poop on Poverty
In Pushkar, India, tens of thousands of tourists come to experience a religious festival and the biggest camel fair in the world. But within the festivities, beyond the exotic veneer, there is a group of women who collect the best fuel available for their everyday lives: camel dung. Director: Vijay Jodha
Town and Country
In China there is a vast gap between those that grow up and go to school in rural or urban areas. Even the youngest kids know this. Director: Louis Meyer
The New Poor
Paco Pascual used to run one of Spain’s top renovation companies. It was a large family business that he and his brothers made successful by competing for, and gaining, government contracts to refurbish buildings. That was before the economic collapse in Europe. Poverty has a new meaning for Paco and his family. Director: Justin Webster
Struggling to survive, despite increasing government restrictions on her livelihood, Indanina, a determined Sea Gypsy, fantasizes about life beyond her idyllic coral island. But the modern world, which she discovers when she is forced to move to a city with her family, is anything but easy. Director: Elena Zervopoulou