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Hot Docs 2011: Recessionize! For Fun and Profit! 15 Simple Steps!

Recessionize! For Fun and Profit

Directed by Jamie Kastner

2011, Canada, 56 mins

This film asks a simple question: how can you turn crisis into opportunity? Looking at the economic wreckage left after the ’08 bust, director Jamie Kastner realized that somebody must be making money in the wake of disaster. This film – or more correctly, this series of short films – is the result of Kastner’s investigation. Witty, informative, and sometimes infuriating, Recessionize! is a call-to-arms for everyone who wants to make money in the face of economic downturn.

This film is purposely divided into vignettes (with titles like “Relocate!” and “Roll with the Market!”) because, aside from the fact that each episode is about someone who is making money despite the recession, the episodes have little in common with one another. We jump between industries (from plastic surgery to real estate!) and we jump between cities (from Los Angeles to Dubai!). However, this film rarely feels scattered. Kastner is an amiable master of ceremonies, guiding us through the convoluted and sometimes absurd world of businesses successful despite – or sometimes, because of – the recession.

The most surprising thing about this documentary is that Kastner’s subjects are frequently middle class; they are not bankers or stockbrokers. Rather, they own lunch trucks, repossess luxury airplanes, photograph weddings, sell real estate, and herd goats. No, seriously – one of the women Kastner interviews has a herd of goats she uses to clear brush. After all, weeds are no match for a hungry goat. Ideas like that are what make this film so fascinating.

These fifteen steps may not lead you to profit, but watching them is certainly fun. Until now, the recession has been nothing but anger and frustration – it’s refreshing to look at the situation with some humour, black though the humour may be. If nothing else, it’s good to know that some people are making the recession work for them.

– Dave

Hot Docs runs April 28 – May 8th. Visit the official website for the festival.

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