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The Big Sellout (2006)

The Big Sellout

“Modern warfare has tried to dehumanize people, to take out the sympathetic element. When you drop bombs from 50,000 feet, you don’t see who they’re landing on, you don’t see the damage. It’s the same thing in economics when you talk about statistics and don’t think about the people that lie behind those statistics.”

– Joseph Stiglitz, Nobel Prize Winner, former Chief Economist at the World Bank in The Big Sellout

The hard-hitting documentary, THE BIG SELLOUT, challenges current economic orthodoxy in contending that the dogmatic claims of the international business establishment for neo-liberal development policies are not supported by modern economic science. More importantly, it dramatically demonstrates how the implementation of these policies is having disastrous consequences for millions of ordinary people around the globe.
Traveling throughout both the developing and industrialized world, THE BIG SELLOUT brings us face-to-face with the architects of the reigning world economic order, as well as with the people bearing the brunt of their policies. The film shows how international financial institutions such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank, are demanding draconian cuts in public spending, the privatization of public services and market liberalization as the only path to economic development. Then it tests these claims against actual case studies.
In his film, author and director FLORIAN OPITZ reveals the reality of the privatised and globalised world, which is supposed to be effective and shiny. He examines the effects of THE BIG SELLOUT, the worldwide privatisation of basic public services, such as water supply, electricity, public transportation, and even public health care. In South America, Asia, Africa, but also in Europe and the United States, OPITZ meets people, for whom these promises are nothing more than hollow phrases. And what he finds is that THE BIG SELLOUT has only just begun.
While national and international economic discourse is fixated on increasing efficiency and economic growth, THE BIG SELLOUT reminds us that there are faces behind the statistics. It raises serious questions about the neo-liberal credo that government best serves the public interest by becoming a servant to corporate interests. But brave individuals, like those showcased in this important film, are standing up and demanding an alternative to the prevailing neo-liberal model, a model that the film shows to be as hollow as it is unsustainable.
Allthough depicting the tragic privatisation failures all over the world there is a lot of hope in the episodes. In a desperate situation that seems to have no alternative to a “survival of the fittest” mentality, people unite and stand up against a seemingly all-powerful enemy.
THE BIG SELLOUT is a very special film: The different storylines of the film are not narrated one after the other, but woven together and carefully intertwined in a thrilling, episodical structure that is as compelling as truthful, and results in a film that is even more exciting than the sum of its parts.

A Film by Florian Opitz ; Discofilm Production in Co-operation with ARTE, Bayerischer Rundfunk and WDR

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