“WE’RE NOT BROKE” | directors, Karin Hayes & Victoria Bruce
[PREMIERE SCREENING: Sunday, January 22 9:00 pm –Temple Theatre, Park City]
As a young kid, I dreamed of being a theater actor (or a veterinarian). It wasn’t until I went to a screening of Robert M. Young’s film Triumph of the Spirit, that I knew I wanted to be able to tell incredibly powerful stories in this same way. I listened, engrossed, as Young, Willem Dafoe, Edward James Olmos and the story’s real-life main character, Salamo Arouch, spoke about the real events and the filmmaking process. By the rousing applause and Q&A afterwards, I could tell the entire audience had been deeply affected by the story. This was what I wanted to be able to accomplish through film.
When the initial idea for our documentary We’re Not Broke came about, I wasn’t completely sure how we’d visually convey various tax-related themes (the world of anything tax-related certainly isn’t known for its visual appeal), but felt that if we could make an often-complicated topic accessible to a large audience, we would succeed. In the middle of production, our film took a turn, and we began to follow various U.S. Uncut activists around the country. This led us to the start of Occupy Wall Street in September 2011 with cameras in hand, and a story in the midst of unfolding.
I don’t really identify as an artist. And even now, on my fourth film, and after reaching the pinnacle of independent doc success by scoring a Sundance premiere, I still find it hard to identify myself as a filmmaker. I’m just a storyteller. For me, film isn’t a choice that I make, rather, how a story itself chooses to be revealed. When the choice a story makes is a book, I feel calm and content. When the choice is film, I feel panicked, unskilled and completely out of my element. But I still go there because I can’t resist the process of putting a million disparate puzzle pieces back in order.
After Karin’s and my last film, Pip & Zastrow: An American Friendship, I rejected the idea of another road down fundraising hell. Karin would try to entice me with one interesting humanitarian or environmental story after another, but I couldn’t be swayed. “Unless you can show me the money,” I’d say, “I will never make another film! I will not make a film unless someone comes with the entire budget and asks us to make a film that I can get passionate about.”
August 2010: In walks Charles Davidson, Publisher of The American Interest magazine. I was thrilled when he asked me to write a book on the subject of tax havens and how tax inequality is destroying the economy in our country. But after several meetings and hashing out the topic, it was apparent that the story was asking to be made into a film. Alas, I sighed. Charles came on as our Executive Producer and funded the doc from start to finish. And We’re Not Broke went marching toward a release just as the entire world was waking up to the topic of economic inequality for the first time since the Great Depression.