The Higher ED Blog: Five documentaries on Netflix economic developers should watch over the holidays
Michelle Madden / December 25, 2014
Chances are no matter what kind of holiday you celebrate (or don’t), you’ll have all or part of the next week off work. Lots of that time will be spent with family and friends, playing with new toys, and eating to excess–but what about the rest of the hours? Many of those will be spent with our old friend television, and our friend’s younger sibling, Netflix.
If you’ve had enough of the sweet-as-sugar-plums Christmas specials already, the documentaries on this list are just what you need. We’ve combed through the Netflix catalog to find you the best economic development-related documentaries currently available on the streaming service. This short list of 5 docs, watched and vetted by myself, should be enough to keep your brain from liquefying into an eggnog-like substance.
Inequality for All (2013, 90 min)
Those looking for something with hard numbers and a few laughs should watch Inequality for All. Former U.S. Labor Secretary Robert Reich stars in this documentary about the widening gap between America’s richest and poorest, and the hollowing out of the country’s middle class. He is a vocal advocate for investing in people, not big business, as the best way to improve the economy. He uses economic concepts and trends to make a very convincing case.
Indie Game: The Movie (2012, 103 min) / Print the Legend (2014, 99 min)
Netflix has two documentaries that dig into the rise of new technology, and the quirky characters leading the way. Indie Game: The Movie offers an insightful view into how small teams of talented video game fanboys can generate millions of dollars in profit. Despite the hopeful payoff, these independent game designers–like traditional artists–will not be rushed while creating their masterpieces. Print the Legend follows an equally offbeat group of startup founders who are vying for market leadership in the 3D printing field. The race gets complicated as the startups grow and as the technology expands to new, sometimes controversial, uses.
The Queen of Versailles (2012, 101 min)
The cover art for this documentary makes it look like another spinoff of the Real Housewives franchise, but don’t be deceived. The documentary starts like a Real Housewives episode, with Jackie Siegel detailing her plans for what will be America’s largest home, named and modelled after France’s Palace of Versailles. The project quickly falls apart when the 2008 Recession hits and her husband’s time share empire crumbles. The second half of the film is a fascinating view of David’s desperate efforts to keep Westgate Resorts afloat and the Siegel family’s transition to a financially constrained lifestyle.
Happy (2011) 75 min
For something more uplifting, watch this highly acclaimed documentary on happiness. It will help you gain insights into your own happiness, and reveal what people really want from life and from their communities.
Happy holidays from the University of Waterloo!