In 2008, the world experienced a financial crisis that almost caused a global financial collapse. The crisis cost millions of people their jobs and their homes... and saw the demise of banking institutions once thought too big to fail.
In his Oscar-winning documentary, Inside Job, Charles Ferguson set out to tell the disturbing story behind the global financial crisis. The film was released in 2010 when the world was still processing what had caused the crisis and asking how we could prevent such a situation from occurring again.
Inside Job’s timeliness and relevance was widely recognised on its release. Its power has not diminished. Almost ten years on, Inside Job feels just as important, just as relevant and just as shocking.
The global financial crisis involved the use of a number of extremely complex financial instruments. Ferguson’s documentary does a pretty good job of explaining these tools and making his film accessible.
Granted, there is a little bit of generalisation - mainly for dramatic purposes. For example, derivatives are described as monstrous almost in and of themselves. For me, the issue is more with how they were used - often for a purpose that was never intended when they were created.
What is most impressive in Inside Job is how the film exposes the incestuous relationship between governments, financial institutions and academia. It is, quite frankly, terrifying.
Satisfying, then, that a number of academics are interviewed. Clearly thinking that their role in the documentary was to explain the crisis, they suddenly find themselves in the line of fire for enabling the situation.
Ferguson also highlights another issue - about the importance of regulation. This is a point that is crucial to understand if we want to avoid another such financial crisis in the future. Of course, the financial sector has always been resistant to regulation - preferring to self regulate.
Financial regulatory bodies always seem several steps behind the innovation in financial markets. Inside Job explains that whenever individual financial regulators started to understand these complex financial products they were tempted away from their regulatory roles by better paid positions in the banks themselves.
Having explored the financial crisis and raised awareness about its cause, Inside Job ends with a call to arms. Despite the obvious amounts of corruption and fraud involved at the heart of the crisis, it remains hard to see how things can change for the better in the future. However, thanks to documentaries like this one, we can’t say that we haven’t been warned.
World-Changing Doc Recommendations
Inside Job is part of the documentaries that change the world sub-genre of Documentary 7.
If you enjoyed this movie, I would also recommend:
I would also like to include the following honourable mentions: Dear Zachary, Food Inc., An Inconvenient Truth and Bowling For Columbine.
Do you have any filmmaking documentaries that you would like to recommend? If so, do let us know in the comments section below or over on Twitter. You can find me @500DaysOfFilm.