The End Of Poverty (2008)


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The aphorism "The poor are always with us" dates back to the New Testament, but while the phrase is still sadly apt in the 21st century, few seem to be able to explain why poverty is so widespread. Activist filmmaker Philippe Diaz examines the history and impact of economic inequality in the third world in the documentary The End of Poverty?, and makes the compelling argument that it's not an accident or simple bad luck that has created a growing underclass around the world. Diaz traces the growth of global poverty back to colonization in the 15th century, and features interviews with a number of economists, sociologists, and historians who explain how poverty is the clear consequence of free-market economic policies that allow powerful nations to exploit poorer countries for their assets and keep money in the hands of the wealthy rather than distributing it more equitably to the people who have helped them gain their fortunes. Diaz also explores how wealthy nations (especially the United States) seize a disproportionate share of the world's natural resources, and how this imbalance is having a dire impact on the environment as well as the economy. The End of Poverty? was an official selection at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival.

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Critic Reviews for The End Of Poverty

All Critics (22) | Top Critics (8)

Even if you're convinced by the many well-spoken interviewees, the film's conclusion is almost as depressing as the historical indictment that precedes it.

Feb 10, 2010 | Rating: 3.5/5 | Full Review…

Because Diaz constructs his movie like a classroom tutorial, we expect something more from him than an appeal to end privatization.

Dec 11, 2009 | Rating: C+ | Full Review…

Powerful and upsetting.

Dec 1, 2009

Why Philippe Diaz has titled his new documentary The End of Poverty? is unclear, because this guilt trip/history lesson is really about the beginning of poverty.

Nov 13, 2009 | Rating: 2/5 | Full Review…

The End Of Poverty? offers simplistic answers to many of the most pressing questions of our time.

Nov 12, 2009 | Rating: D | Full Review…
AV Club
Top Critic

It's heartbreaking, of course, but also crassly manipulative and blandly shot, too.

Nov 11, 2009 | Rating: 2/5 | Full Review…
Time Out
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for The End Of Poverty

"The End of Poverty?" is a documentary that starts well enough in telling the history of colonial exploitation which began in 1492 and simply went downhill from there for the indigenous peoples in Africa, Asia and South America. Surprisingly, things did not get that much better with independence as an insidious form of imperialism took over, more economic than political. The IMF and World Bank(or legal loan sharks, if you will) gave out loans to developing countries while dictating the terms which usually meant the gutting of social programs and protections for their citizens, leaving the population without a safety net or jobs in many cases. Whereas the interviews with ordinary citizens are heartbreaking, they also tend to be repetitious, as the documentary should have spent more time with them and skipped the statistics. These vignettes also give the feeling that the suffering is passive with a few exceptions like the water protests in Bolivia. Not quite, as it turns out. In reality, a movement has been working on two fronts to challenge the IMF/World bank hegemony that Rebecca Solnit recapped in a recent article. Activists starting in Seattle in 1999 have been bringing huge protests to the bankers' front door, demanding debt forgiveness(Which is mentioned once in the film. It might have a chance if we slashed the military budget), while leaders are elected in South America that are responsive to their citizens' needs, especially in Venezuela and Bolivia.(The documentary talks to most of Evo Morales' government but does not mention his historic win.) And it would have been interesting to compare Cuba to the other countries mentioned in this film which I think has it sort of right. This is not an end, just a new beginning.

Walter M.
Walter M.

Super Reviewer

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