Money Puzzles addresses the widespread misunderstandings about money and debt to be found in both the media and everyday life, not to mention university economics departments. It questions the illusory qualities of the myriad forms of money in the twenty-first century, along with the falsehoods and distortions of the economics on which austerity politics is based. It asks about the role of debt as a form of control and coercion at international, national and household levels, and what happens when debts become unpayable. It also reports on alternative approaches variously found in the social solidarity movements in countries like Greece and Spain, complementary currencies in the UK, the international campaign for citizens debt audits, and the need for universal principles for sovereign debt restructuring recognised by the UN General Assembly last year.
Money Puzzles is a counter-narrative to mainstream economic orthodoxy. It also dispenses with the conventions of the mainstream documentary – the all-knowing narrator, the balanced opinions – and turns to different voices: economics students in England frustrated with the inadequacy of what they’re being taught, solidarity volunteers in Greece, anti-eviction activists in Spain, advocates of citizens debt audits across Europe, critical economists like Costas Lapavitsas, Molly Scott-Cato, Johnna Mongomerie and Axel Kicillof.
It is not without irony that a film about money is constrained by lack of it: the subject matter of the film is necessary for making it. Working from an academic base but very much at the margins, with only small tranches of academic funding, the film was made with support in kind from colleagues (especially the Political Economy Research Centre (PERC) at Goldsmiths), and a small crowd-funder. I also owe a great debt of gratitude to friends and colleagues in Greece, Spain, Belgium and Argentina who helped to make it happen, and to the community groups who opened their doors to our cameras.
But if the film’s mode of production is determined by the structuring constraints of our lack of finances, the flexibility of digital video enables alternate forms of dissemination, and Money Puzzles is designed for multiple forms of use. The complete version, running 130mns, will be freely available for streaming shortly, but the film comprises nine chapters which can be viewed separately. There will also be a shorter version, running 52mns.
But as we know, a film comes alive best in front of an audience, so here’s the call. If anyone would like to arrange a screening, do please get in touch.