Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Atwood's Payback Wows as a Documentary

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Payback documentary

Jennifer Baichwal, whose prior work includes Manufactured Landscapes, is the director of Payback, a documentary based on Margaret Atwood's Payback: Debt and the Shadow Side of Wealth (Anansi).

The film is visually stunning and uses Atwood's book as a framework for several interesting narratives, from migrant worker conflicts in Florida to a violent family blood feud in Albania. Also featured is coverage of the now-infamous British Petroleum disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, which lends the film many of its most arresting images.

Interspersed are several speakers voicing their opinions about the history and nature of debt as a concept. Conrad Black, Raj Patel and Louise Arbour, former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, are amongst those offering insight into debt from a psychological, etymological and social perspective. Atwood herself is mainly shown typing in a hotel room (on a MacBook Air, for the curious) and reading from Payback to a crowd of enthusiastic students, lending the film a useful structure while allowing Baichwal to explore her own narratives about the imbalance of wealth and power.

Raj Patel offered one viewpoint on this, saying "If you are poor in the free market, freedom is just another word for nothing you can afford."

Payback will be released on Friday, March 16 at select theatres in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver. The 7:00pm Friday night screening at Toronto's Varsity theatre will be followed by a live Q&A session with Baichwal and Atwood.

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