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film review

The New Corporation is the follow-up to Jennifer Abbott and Joel Bakan's 2004 documentary The Corporation.Courtesy of Elevation Pictures

  • The New Corporation
  • Directed by Jennifer Abbott and Joel Bakan
  • Classification N/A; 105 minutes

Rating:

4 out of 4 stars


In 2004, University of British Columbia law professor Joel Bakan and director Jennifer Abbott made a film based on his book The Corporation, which warned that the profit motive was destroying workers, democracy and the planet. Sixteen years later, the only difference is the smiley face. Subprime lender JPMorgan Chase now congratulates itself for urban-renewal efforts in Detroit, while the oil industry goes greenwashing.

The New Corporation argues that corporate social responsibility is dangerous guff. Tax and regulatory cuts have permitted corporations to replace the public sphere, creating a world where social media undermine democracy while climate change and income inequality continue apace.

Cutting together searing interviews with cleverly edited imagery, the film (Canadian but often focusing on the United States) is right up to the minute, deftly including COVID-19 and Black Lives Matter. Before the viewer sinks into despair, the filmmakers offer activists' successful electoral campaigns as evidence that popular revolt is politically effective. This documentary doesn’t cover specific solutions, but the real answer must lie in what one critic dares to voice at the elite economic forum in Davos, Switzerland: “Taxes, taxes, taxes. All the rest is [garbage].”

The New Corporation opens in select Canadian theatres Nov. 13

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