PARK CITY, Utah – The Sundance Film Festival is all about diversity and inclusion. Two of its documentaries are all about disparity and exclusivity – economic inequality that has left a rising gap between the super-rich and everyone else.
Director Jacob Kornbluth’s “Inequality for All” is inspired by economist Robert Reich’s book “Aftershock: The Next Economy & America’s Future” and features the former U.S. labor secretary’s analysis of such issues as wage stagnation and big money in politics.
“99%: The Occupy Wall Street Collaborative Film” takes its cue from the 2011 protests that had activists camped out in cities around the country.
Directors Audrey Ewell and Aaron Aites got the film rolling after seeing streaming footage of mass arrests on the Brooklyn Bridge near their home. They flipped on the TV news and found no coverage of the protest, so they grabbed their cameras and started filming.
As protests spread to other cities, they put out a call for volunteers to help document the overall movement.
“People were seeing marches, people were seeing people camping in a park and talking about all these different issues. But it didn’t feel like there was that one cohesive telling of the story where people could understand what they wanted, why they wanted it, where all of this anger and frustration was coming from,” Ewell said.
In “Inequality for All,” Reich traces cycles in economic disparity over the last century, noting that the peaks of wealth concentration in the hands of the richest 1 percent of Americans occurred in 1928, the year before the Depression hit, and right before the 2007 recession.
The two films are among the 16 competing for prizes in Sundance’s U.S. documentary competition.