I have mentioned the movie I.O.U.S.A. before here on this blog, starting with my “about” page in discussing the new and improved (almost totally hip?) Concord Coalition, and then again in mid-June when the movie was shown at a DC-area film festival. Well, mark your calendars… The movie opens in theatres in 10 major metropolitan areas–the “I.O.U.S.A. the movie” website lists New York, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Miami, Philadelphia, Kansas City, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C.–on Friday, August 22nd. The evening before the theatrical release, on Thurs., August 21st, a much broader nationwide distribution of about 400 theatres will be treated to a special screening/sneak preview, to be immediately followed by a simulcast panel discussion featuring Warren Buffett, Pete Peterson, and David Walker. (***UPDATE: go to this “Fathom Events” webpage to find the theatre nearest you.) If and when it will come back after the 21st for a run at your theatre, I’m not sure. So save the evening of the 21st to see it when you can–and early.
Because I’m so privileged to work with many of the ”stars” in the movie (the movie features the Concord Coalition’s Fiscal Wake-Up Tour, great shots of our executive director (my boss) Bob Bixby in our humble Concord offices in Arlington, VA, and is very much oriented around Concord’s mission), I’ve had a chance to see the various versions of the movie as it has developed and improved and have even had the opportunity to meet and give feedback to the movie’s director, Patrick Creadon (how cool is that?). I’ve now seen the movie four times, having just viewed the theatrical release version just yesterday, and I love it more each time I see it. (I’m always the first one to clap at the end.) I really think it’s so brilliant how Patrick has turned what would seem to be a dull, ”inside the Beltway” policy issue that one would normally only read about in too-technical government documents or see through C-SPAN coverage of too-tedious congressional hearings, into a sit-on-the-edge-of-your-seat (and learn), thoroughly entertaining motion picture. Amazing.
But you might think I’m a little biased. After all, I find the issue of fiscal responsibility so engaging that I thought I could build a blog (this blog) around it!
So don’t take this budget geek’s word for it… Check out this review by Jessica Mosby, of the Women’s International Perspective blog, who must have seen the movie at one of the film festivals or other special screenings. Jessica is not an EconomistMom–she is, in her own words, ”a writer and critic living in San Francisco, California. In the rare moments when she’s not traveling across the United States for work, Jessica enjoys listening to public radio, buying organic food at local farmers markets, trolling junk stores, and collecting owl-themed tchotchke.”
My favorite parts of Jessica’s review:
…Creadon’s new film, which is based on the book of the same name, rebuffs the notion that “economics” and “fun” have to be mutually exclusive. For 85 minutes, I.O.U.S.A. zips through 200 years of American history to explain how the richest country in the world is currently $9.5 trillion in debt.
…If you have no idea or don’t even care that this debt exists, I.O.U.S.A. makes you want to learn. The film’s complex premise and daunting numbers are made more accessible by the use of colorful graphs and illustrations. Creadon effectively contrasts what average people think (or think they know) against experts’ analysis, which keeps the film from being too weighed down by statistics and theories.
…A significant portion of I.O.U.S.A. follows former U.S. Comptroller General David Walker and The Concord Coalition Executive Director Robert Bixby as they tour the country speaking in town hall meetings as part of their Fiscal Wake-Up Tour. Since 2005, Walker and Bixby have made it their mission to educate the public on the reality that the future of the country depends on making difficult financial decisions. Hearing two middle-aged bureaucrats talk about economics and the country’s dire future is oddly compelling and even funny (maybe it’s all the Tab soda that the good-humored Bixby is always drinking).
…Between 1980 and 1990 the national debt more than tripled. After being elected in 1992, President Bill Clinton broke his campaign promise to lower taxes, deciding instead to balance the budget and eliminate the debt by 2012. But we haven’t continued to pay down our debt; the rising budget deficit, and what that means for the country’s future, is why Walker and Bixby started their Fiscal Wake-Up Tour.
Even people who are aware of the budget deficit (and, according to the film’s hilarious interviews with random people on the street, that’s only a handful) don’t fully understand the complexity and ramifications of the deficit.
… I.O.U.S.A. is an incredibly timely documentary that is able to address a serious issue in an accessible and fun way, which is never an easy feat. Spending money and time on an educational documentary film may not appeal to everyone, but understanding the country’s economy is especially important as a recession looms and the price tag for the Iraq war escalates to $3 trillion. However, some people may be overwhelmed by the amount of information that the film presents, especially those not familiar with economics.
…To its credit, I.O.U.S.A. does not take political sides; regardless of which party is in office – politicians on both sides of the aisle are responsible for the current situation…
…While it may be easier to simply ignore the complexities of the country’s finances, Americans actually have a chance to reevaluate their fiscal policies with the upcoming presidential elections – watching I.O.U.S.A. is a good place to start.
I will keep you readers informed about the movie’s release as I have more information to share. For now, go to the movie’s website to check out the movie trailer and photos, and save Thursday evening, August 21st for a possible special screening coming to your neighborhood theatre (the evening before the big theatrical release to those 10 major metro areas).
And… YouTube links:
IOUSA movie trailer
interview with Patrick Creadon, with clips