October 18, 2016

Social Issues in Film Series Presents “Poverty Inc.” Oct. 19

VALDOSTA – Valdosta State University’s 2016-2017 Social Issues in Film Series will present “Poverty Inc.” at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 19, in Nevins Hall Room 1061. Admission to the screening is free of charge and open to all students, faculty, staff, retirees, alumni, and friends of the university.

“Poverty Inc.” studies the complex global industry of foreign aid and is presented by the Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty, a nonprofit research organization dedicated to the study of free market economics informed by religious faith and moral absolutes. A documentary written, directed, and produced by Michael Matheson Miller, a research fellow at the Acton Institute, a synopsis of “Poverty Inc.” boasts the tagline: “Fighting poverty is big business. But who profits the most?”

“We often treat poor people like the objects of our charity, the objects of our pity or of our compassion, instead of engaging them as the subjects and protagonists of their own story of development,” Miller is quoted as saying in an online filmmaker question-and-answer session from previous post-screening discussions. “The whole vision and the whole framework or paradigm of how we think about the poor — the assumptions, the beliefs, the institutions — have developed into a multibillion dollar industry. Like any industry, the industry wants to keep itself in business. Whatever the good intentions of individuals working in the industry, the incentive structures of the industry itself is such that helping people actually create their own prosperity for their communities takes a back seat to the activities of the industry itself.”

The documentary team met over 200 people from 20 different countries in its research for the film, with the intention to unearth an “uncomfortable part of charity” and present the notion that perhaps generous monetary donations to the poor are not the solution to the poverty problem. 

Words spoken in the film’s trailer reflect the inspiration for this documentary: “Having a heart for the poor isn’t hard. But having a mind for the poor — that’s the challenge.”  

“Poverty Inc.” premiered at the Austin Film Festival in October 2014 and has earned 40 international film festival honors and 12 awards, screening in 16 countries and attracting worldwide distribution.

Dr. Lorna Alvarez-Rivera, Dr. Tom Hochschild, Dr. Anne Price, and Dr. Shelly Yankovsky, faculty members in the Department of Sociology, Anthropology, and Criminal Justice, sponsor VSU’s annual Social Issues in Film Series.

Contact Dr. Tom Hochschild at trhochschild@valdosta.edu to learn more.

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