In 2003, a BC-made documentary, The Corporation, kicked up a mighty ruckus with its brilliant, incisive critique of the pathology of business in the neo-liberal era. Seventeen years later, co-directors Joel Bakan (who wrote the original film and book) and Jennifer Abbott (whose The Magnitude of All Things is also screening at VIFF) return to take stock of what has changed over this period, for better and, mostly, for worse.
As the new film shows, corporations have become savvy about camouflaging their activities, dressing up in shades of green and paying lip service to diversity and innovation. But virtue signaling is just another distraction. Income inequality is returning us to feudalism; endless growth is running our climate into lethal overdrive. Meanwhile authoritarianism is on the rise across the globe. There is enough content here to fuel a dozen documentaries, but The New Corporation performs an invaluable service in carving out a comprehensive overview of these anarchic times, allowing us to make connections and seek solutions. It’s bang up to date, too, with a coda on the impacts of the pandemic.
Joel Bakan, Jennifer Abbott
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Director – Joel Bakan
Joel Bakan teaches law at the University of British Columbia. His acclaimed book, The Corporation: The Pathological Pursuit of Profit and Power (2004) was an international bestseller. It inspired the award-winning feature documentary, The Corporation (written by Bakan and directed by Mark Achbar and Jennifer Abbott). Bakan’s scholarly work includes Just Words: Constitutional Rights and Social Wrongs (1997), and Childhood Under Siege: How Big Business Targets Children (2012). His latest book is The New Corporation: How ‘Good’ Corporations are Bad for Democracy. Joel is also a professional jazz guitarist.
Director – Jennifer Abbott
Jennifer Abbott is a Sundance and Genie award-winning filmmaker who has been making films about urgent social, political and environmental issues for 25 years. She is best known as the co-director and editor of The Corporation. She also co-directed, co-wrote and edited Us & Them; and co-wrote and edited Sea Blind, among other films. VIFF is presenting both Abbott’s two new feature docs: The New Corporation: The Unfortunately Necessary Sequel and The Magnitude of All Things.
Photo: ©Stasia Garraway