Let's Make Money
Erwin Wagenhofer's incredible odyssey tracking our money through the worldwide finance system.
Directed by Erwin Wagenhofer
Produced by Helmut Grasser
Photography: Erwin Wagenhofer
Editor: Paul M. Sedlacek
Sound: Lisa Ganser
An Allegro Film Production
More than ever before, it has become clear that the markets affect us all. Produced by Erwin Wagenhofer ("We Feed the World") LET'S MAKE MONEY follows the trail of our money through the worldwide finance system.
"This prescient, shocking, and expertly crafted primer will spark many urgent debates." Sundance Film Festival Program
What do our retirement savings have to do with the property blow-up in Spain? We don't have to buy a home there in order to be involved. As soon as we open an account, we're part of the worldwide finance market--whether we want to be or not. We customers have no idea where our debtors live and what they do to pay our interest fees. Most of us aren't even interested, because we like to follow the call of the banks to "Let your money work.'' But money can't work. Only people, animals or machines can work.
The film starts at the Ahafo mine in Ghana, West Africa, where vast areas are being blasted open. Gold is extracted from the rock in a tedious process, then smelted and flown directly to Switzerland. The spoils are divided up proportionally: 3% for Africa, 97% for the West. The mine was opened with the assistance of the World Bank.
"I don't think the investor should be responsible for the ethics, the pollution or anything the company in which he has invested produces. That's not his job. His job is to invest and earn money for his clients." Mark Mobius, president of Templeton Emerging Markets
"In the end it's always the so-called man or woman on the street who's left paying the bills." Hermann Scheer, winner of the alternative Nobel Prize and a member of German Parliament
Grade Level: 10-12, College, Adult
US Release Date: 2010
Copyright Date: 2008
DVD ISBN: 1-59458-922-4
"Let's Make Money exposes the seamy underside of investment where the gain of the rich comes as the expense of everyone else. The film graphically shows the human cost of high finance in the lives of its many victims around the globe. Viewers will come away from the screen determined that investments advance and not impede genuine world development."
John Boatright, Professor of Business Ethics, Loyola University Chicago, Author, Ethics and the Conduct of Business
"An in-depth examination of the global economic and financial system in the age of neo-liberalism. Beautifully filmed...Wagenhofer seeks to illuminate the global economy for those of us who are kept in the dark; and yet suffer the consequences...Shown are the efforts of investors to make money, and with no consideration of ethics, much less the impact on human lives...An excellent film that will get audiences to raise many provocative questions. It's clear that we must join together to change this system...It deserves wide distribution."
Dr. Kim Scipes, Department of Sociology, Purdue University North Central
"Let's Make Money is a dramatic and visual feast depicting the high flyers of global finance that fueled the economic meltdown juxtaposed powerfully with those around the planet who pay the price--the world's poor and struggling middle classes. The film follows the money--our money--as it travels through the global casino of financial markets and reckless speculation. Essential viewing for anyone who wants to understand the roots of the global financial crisis."
Chuck Collins, Senior Scholar, Institute for Policy Studies, co-Author, The Moral Measure of the Economy
"The film presents, quite literally, a factory floor peek into thought processes of executives for growth, emerging markets, and efficiency....Outstanding content...A resounding enterprise. Highly Recommended."
Michael Coffta, Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania, Educational Media Reviews Online
"A disturbing exploration of the 'new' global capitalism...This economic horror film is both shocking and revelatory. Highly recommended."
"How does money grow? This is the main question Erwin Wagenhofer tries to answer with this movie...This documentary is must-see for everybody willing to be responsible for his actions. It simply opens our eyes."
J. Epstein, The Incomplete News Project
"Through simple, educative words and pictures of overwhelming intensity it explains how the tax haven of Jersey works, why there are 600,000 new houses in Spain not meant for anyone to live in and other details of the worldwide market that have led to our present financial crisis."
Andrea Dittgen, Sight and Sound
"A momentous and chilling work of reportage...that maps and analyzes the contemporary global financial system. Shuttled around the world in private limousines and welcomed to corporate offices atop gleaming towers, we are treated to a litany of explanations by people close to the action, outlining how the financial world works and where it stands...In settings ranging from India to Austria, from Burkina Faso to Washington, D.C., the legacies of decades of relaxed credit, deregulation of markets, and privatization of public facilities are illustrated by concrete examples so bizarre, outsized, and chilling that you'd expect to find them in a science-fiction movie rather than a documentary. The testimonies of economic theorists, proponents of offshore tax havens, and even one 'economic hit man' combine to create a portrait of high stakes and shortsightedness, with war, mass migration, and ecological disaster as only a few of the downsides. Viewed in such volatile economic times as these, this prescient,
shocking, shocking, and expertly crafted primer will spark many urgent debates."
Sundance Film Festival Program
"Dissects the philosophies and practices of the neo-liberal system to lay out the direct causes and contributing factors of the ravenous consumption that has led to global economic collapse. What might have seemed merely informative a year ago now takes on the character and significance of an autopsy report. A remarkable degree of access to central players in international finance, economic theory, and government policy...makes for many fascinating insights, particularly in light of the recent seismic shifts in the global economy. Lucid and cogent, with an important environmental undercurrent that runs throughout the film, Let's Make Money serves as a kind of time capsule for a failed economic model."
HotDocs Festival Program
"[A] probing, penetrating and deeply critical look at the economic foundations of neo-liberalism."
"The most impressive cinematic work on the issue...crucial, devastating and inspired by rare intelligence in this era of political propaganda, Let's Make Money is a must-see."
"Let's Make Money gives us much reason not only to lament the current state of affairs but also to work on ways to correct it."
Ken Keuffel, Winston-Salem Journal
Includes scene selection, SDH captions for the deaf and hard-of-hearing and the film's trailer.
Awards and Festivals
Nominated for Grand Jury Prize, Sundance Film Festival - World Cinema Documentary Competition
German Documentary of the Year Film Prize
"WorldShift Ethic Prize" of the Intellektuellen-Vereinigung Club of Budapest
International Documentary Festival Amsterdam (IDFA), Joris Ivens Competition
HotDocs Canadian International Documentary Film Festival
ZagrebDox International Festival of Documentary Films
Thessaloniki Documentary Film Festival
One World Romania Human Rights Documentary Film Festival
Buenos Aires Festival of Independent Film
Jeonju International Film Festival Cinemascape
Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival
Moscow International Film Festival
Jerusalem International Film Festival
Rio International Film Festival
CinemAmbiente Environmental Film Festival, Turin
Bergen International Film Festival
Seville Eurodoc Competition
RiverRun International Film Festival
ReFrame Film Festival
United Nations Association Film Festival
African Diaspora International Film Festival
Labor and Work Issues
Migration and Refugees
Investigates the roots of the current economic crisis, and the ongoing assault on working people in the United States.
Tells the story of the credit bubble that caused the financial crash of 2008, and clearly explains how excessive income inequality leads to economic instability.
The Love of Money
What's the Economy for, Anyway?
Ecological economist Dave Batker questions whether GDP is an adequate measure of society's well-being and suggests workable alternatives.
We Feed the World
Vividly reveals the dysfunctionality of the industrialized world food system and shows what world hunger has to do with us.
Marilyn Waring demystifies global economics from a feminist perspective.
Argentina: Turning Around
An intimate view of new models of work, politics and community development in Argentina.
Argentina: Hope in Hard Times
The Argentine people, in the face of economic collapse, provide a hopeful example for the rest of us.
Economics and its relation to social change and our lifestyles.
Multinational companies seldom take the needs of people or the environment into account.
Buyer Be Fair
Looks at the benefits of fair trade goods and product certification for people and the environment.
Another World is Possible
A rousing account of the 2002 World Social Forum that will inspire activists everywhere.