Release date:April 25, 2012
Margaret Atwood's brilliant 2008 essay, "Payback: Debt and the Shadow Side of Wealth" is the jumping off point for this fascinating, far-ranging cinematic essay by Jennifer Baichwal, Here the filmmaker, working from Atwood's premise, explores the multifaceted notion of debt: financial, economic, moral and spiritual. She visits with both sides in a contemporary Albanian blood feud, involving automatic weaponry; with Conrad Black, the disgraced media mogul, imprisoned for mail fraud; with environmentalists who describe the degree of responsibility BP has taken (not enough) for the Gulf oil spill; and with Florida tomato growers who ultimately reconcile with their workers over improving working conditions. But "Payback" is no dry academic treatise on conscience. In riveting, literate passages from her writing, Atwood focuses on the urgent issue of the debt we each owe to the larger social good.