DocHouse Picks: 5 of the best Docs about the Financial Crisis
"Wildly entertaining... blows the lid off another multibillion-dollar heist." - variety
Opening this Friday at DocHouse is The China Hustle, the new documentary from investigative filmmaker Jed Rothstein. During the 2008 financial crash, investors on the fringes of the financial world feverishly sought new alternatives for high-return investments in the global markets. Finding a goldmine is Asia, hundreds of Chinese companies flooded the US stock market through reverse takeovers with American companies. Boasting tremendous growth, a feeding frenzy ensued that seemed too good to be true - and it was.
Recognising the advantage of the investigative form, much like he did with Enron: The Smartest Guy in the Room, director Jed Rothstein's latest film uncovers the thrilling trail of greed and deception, ringing the alarm on the need for transparency in an increasingly deregulated financial world. Unveiling the biggest Wall Street heist you've never heard of, The China Hustle is a superlative example of how the investigative documentary form has the capability of simultaneously critiquing and mirroring the glamorous appeal of big money and the lifestyle that goes with it.
To celebrate our exclusive release of The China Hustle on 23rd March, we racked our brains at DocHouse HQ for our favourite films that document and scrutinize the modern financial world, western capitalism and the wider ‘get rich quick’ culture.
The Forecaster (2014)
The first film to play on release at our Curzon Bloomsbury home, The Forecaster tells the extraordinary story of renegade economist Martin Armstrong and the computer system he created that could accurately predict world economic turning points. His forecasts gained him worldwide attention and a clientele of powerful players in the global economy. But in 1999 the FBI suddenly stormed his offices, accused him of a Ponzi scheme and put him in prison. With exclusive access to Armstrong, directors Marcus Vetter and Karin Steinberger paint a documentary portrait that reveals the truth about what happened all those years ago and allows the now free Armstrong to share his views on the financial crisis and offer solutions.
Available to rent on Vimeo.
Inside Job (2010)
Winner of 2011 Academy Award for best documentary, Inside Job is perhaps the most comprehensive analysis of the 2008 global financial crisis on film. Constructed in five parts, director Charles Ferguson explores and identifies how changes in the policy environment and banking practices accelerated, and arguably created, the 2008 financial crisis. Meticulously researched, well-paced, expertly communicating insider knowledge to a mass audience with the help of Matt Damon’s narration, Inside Job expertly makes for a disheartening but essential viewing.
Available to rent on Amazon.
Park Avenue: Money, Power and the American Dream (2012)
Directed by Alex Gibney, the master of the investigative form, Park Avenue examines the ‘World Richest Apartment Building’: 740 Park Avenue, New York. Highlighting many billionaires that live in the building, the film interrogates the political influence that its inhabitants exploit for their own gain. Featuring interviews with their doorman, journalist Jane Mayer, university professors and Republican advisor Bruce Bartlett, Gibney’s sharp comparison of residents of Park Avenue on the Upper East Side with those in the South Bronx presents a damning indictment of the dangerous interrelationship between money and power.
Available to watch on Dailymotion.
The Queen of Versailles (2012)
With her next film Generation Wealth on the horizon, director Lauren Greenfield’s breakthrough film is a portrait of eccentric Florida billionaires David and Jackie Siegel. Set against the 2008 global economic crisis, financial failure threatens their fortune just as they are in the middle of building a 90,000 square-foot estate. Both questioning and empathizing with the Siegel’s choices and financial straits, Greenfield’s film is a timely, engaging, and richly drawn portrait of the American Dream.
Available on YouTube.
Abacus: Small Enough to Jail (2016)
One of our very own DocHouse Firsts, Steve James’ latest film tells the story of Abacus Federal Savings of Chinatown. Founded in 1984 in New York by Thomas Sung, the small family-run operation specialised in small loans to members of the local community and was the only bank that was prosecuted in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis. Faced with charges of systemic fraud, larceny and conspiracy, the Sung Family mounted a legal battle to fight to clear their name. Nominated for the Academy Award for Best Documentary, Steve James weaves a moving portrait of the Sung Family and their commitment to protecting their business in this David and Goliath tale.
Available to rent on Amazon.