Poverty in short

WHY POVERTY. Around 30 short films by new and emerging talents are part of the global campaign on poverty and inequality launched in November 2012. Watch some of the films here on our website.

Like the eight documentaries in the international "Why Poverty?" project, a series of shorts investigate questions about why, after more than half a century of aid, so many people are still living in poverty and suffering from inequality. Though tackling complex issues, the films all present moving, subtle and thought-provoking stories.

The films are all made by new and emerging talents from around the world.

Why Poverty?

"Why Poverty?" has a special focus during IDFA, including a screening of the eight long documentary films in the series on 22 November:

What does an education get you?
China's economic boom and talk of the merits of hard work have created an expectation that to study is to escape poverty. But these days China's higher education system only leads to jobs for a few, educating a new generation to unemployment and despair.
Director Weijun Chen Producer Don Edkins Produced by Steps International

How do you change the world?
From Live Aid to Make Poverty History, celebrities have become activists against poverty. But have the concerts and campaigns really lifted millions out of poverty? Geldof, Bono and Bill Gates speak candidly about how to lobby effectively.
Director Bosse Lindquist Producer David Herdies Produced by Momento Film

How do you feed the world?

75% of Mali's population are farmers, but rich nations are leasing Mali's land in order to turn large areas into agribusiness farms. As Mali experiences a military coup, the developers are scared off – but can Mali's farmers combat food shortages on their own?
Hugo Berkeley & Osvalde Lewat Producer Eli Cane Produced by Normal Life Pictures

How much inequality is too much?
740 Park Ave, New York City, is home to some of the wealthiest Americans. Across the Harlem River, 10 minutes to the north, is the other Park Avenue in South Bronx, where 40% of the residents live in poverty. In the last 30 years, inequality has rocketed in the US.
Director Alex Gibney Producer Blair Foster Produced by Jigsaw Productions

Do we know what poverty is?

The poor may always have been with us, but attitudes towards them have changed. Beginning in the Neolithic Age, Ben Lewis's film takes us through the changing world of poverty.
Director Ben Lewis Producers Femke Volting & Bruno Felix Produced by Submarine

Are women better at getting out of poverty than men?
Rafea is the second wife of a Bedouin husband. She is selected to attend the Barefoot College in India that takes uneducated middle-aged women from poor communities and trains them to become solar engineers.
Directors Mona Eldaief & Jehane Noujaim Producer Mette Heide Produced by Plus Pictures. Read Women on Power.

How much profit is fair?

Rüschlikon in Switzerland has a very low tax rate and very wealthy residents. But it receives more tax revenue than it can use, thanks to Ivan Glasenberg, CEO of Glencore, who owns copper mines in Zambia.
Director Christoffer Guldbrandsen Producer Henrik Veileborg Produced by Guldbrandsen Film. Read Scrutinising a Swiss Mining Venture.

Is it worse to be born poor than to die poor?

130 million babies are born each year. In Cambodia, you're likely to be born to a family living on less than 1 dollar a day. In Sierra Leone chances of surviving the first year are half those of the worldwide average.
Director Brian Hill Producer Rachel Tierney Produced by Century Films

Worldwide broadcast 25-30 November 2012. In addition, around 30 shorts are distributed on WhyPoverty.net and on YouTube. "Why Poverty?" is initiated and produced by Mette Hoffmann Meyer of the Danish national broadcaster DR and Nick Fraser of the BBC, via STEPS International and its executive producer, Don Edkins.

The Danish Film Institute has supported the production of all eight films.


Available on WhyPoverty.net and YouTube:

Morris' Bag

Kenya: can you feed a family out of bag?

Love and Rubbish

Russia: if you live in poverty, can you afford to dream?

The Thread

Uruguay: can microfinance fix a 15th birthday?

Wilbur Goes Poor: Episode 01

India: is this it?

Wilbur Goes Poor: Episode 02

India: caste - a cause of poverty and discrimination?

Wilbur Goes Poor: Episode 03

India: how do YOU deal with poverty?

God is Rain

Kenya: what happens when the water runs out?

In Your Hands

Colombia: surrounded by violence, what do you do?

Poop on Poverty

India: great photo opportunity or harsh reality?

Town and Country

China: is the grass always greener?

Colours In The Dust

Haiti: can a boy paint his way out of poverty?

Afghan Girl

Afghanistan: Teacher? Engineer? Shepherd?


Global: why can't we feed the world?

Finding Josephine

Uganda: who benefits from charity?

New Poor

Spain: who are the new poor?

Voices: Bolivia

Bolivia: what do you have in your heart?

Voices: South Africa

South Africa: what keeps you going?

Coal Boy

India: digging to the other end of the world?

OK Brothers

India: worst job in the world?

Sea Gypsies

Malaysia: the cost of tourism?

The Barrel

Venezuela: sink or swim?

Behind Why Poverty? is the non-profit organisation Steps who also ran the project Why Democracy?. Partners and broadcasters from around the world include:

Bernard van Leer Foundation
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
CoBO Fund
Danida: Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Denmark
Danish Film Institute
Danish Ministry of Education
Ford Foundation
Gucci Tribeca Documentary Fund
ITVS International
PPR Foundation for Women's Dignity and Rights
Sundance Film Program & Skoll Foundation
Swedish Film Institute
Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation
Televisión América Latina
The Bertha Foundation
The Open University
World View Broadcast Media Scheme

Read more about the films and Why Poverty? at www.whypoverty.net and Steps www.steps.co.za.