Adelaide Film Festival 2018: Generation Wealth

What: Generation Wealth (dir. Lauren Greenfield)

Where: Mercury Cinema/GU Film House Adelaide

When: 11 and 19 October 2018

How much: $16-20 (see webpage)

Photograph: Lauren Greenfield

Generation Wealth is the latest offering from photographer-filmmaker Lauren Greenfield, known best for her 2012 documentary The Queen of Versailles. This one covers similar subject matter: wealth in the United States, with peeks into China, Russia, and Germany in 2018.

A retrospective of her career in many ways, Generation Wealth includes Greenfield’s work from her 25 year career. The film follows her subjects over time, looking at the intersection of money, gender, sex, power, and bodies and how time has changed them. We are introduced to a number of characters, some who return over and over and some who feature only for a short interview. The ability to duck in and out of these storylines, seeing the way that these people have changed over time, is powerful.

Photograph: Lauren Greenfield

What I like about the film is the way Greenfield dips into her personal life to inform the storyline. There are scenes in her home as she sorts through thousands of negatives and photos, she interviews her sons, and she stops and looks at herself: could her passion for work be considered an obsession the same way her subjects are obsessed?

However, as a documentary, it is not quite there. Interviews with journalist Chris Hedges feature as the only academic voice, with the future of wealth considered otherwise just by Greenfield herself. Generation Wealth toes the line of a 2018 political documentary without ever quite getting there. This begs the question: can you look at the inherent politics of wealth without looking at politics?

Nevertheless, I really enjoyed this movie. Greenfield is talented, drawing us into these worlds and lives without judgement. I look forward to her future work.

4 out of 5 stars

Natalie Carfora

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