New film tries to shed light on issue of American financial policy
Like "Titanic," and other big-screen disaster movies based on real life, it was only a matter of time before the film industry turned its spotlight on the frightening size of our national debt.
Coming soon to a theater near you, "I.O.U.S.A" is an eye-opening documentary starring the greatest nation on Earth in the ultimate battle to dig itself out of a mountain of debt that threatens to bankrupt its Social Security and Medicare system.
The 84-minute movie will premiere Thursday at selected theaters across the nation, including Showcase Cinemas Pittsburgh West in Robinson at 8 p.m. The premiere showing will be followed by a simulcasted 45-minute live panel discussion with some of America's top financial leaders and policy experts -- including Warren Buffett.
"We wanted to make this movie part of the national conversation before the election," said Addison Wiggin, co-writer and executive producer of "I.O.U.S.A." and founder of Agora Financial in Baltimore.
"We are actually showing the film at both the Democratic and Republican conventions after the premiere.
"We are hoping that the presidential candidates will take up these issues and take a leadership position in helping to resolve them and lead a conversation about them, which is not happening now."
The movie "I.O.U.S.A." and an upcoming book with the same name present an alarming profile of the growing trade deficit, the lack of leadership, the outrageousness of a $9.5 trillion federal debt and its implications for American people.
The national debt has continued to climb an average of $1.79 billion per day since September 2007.
"It's economics, and it seems like a difficult subject to understand," Mr. Wiggin said. "But we have succeeded in making it a fun and entertaining movie. We convey an important message, but at the same time it's not so heavy people can't understand it."
"I.O.U.S.A." was recently bought by the Peter G. Peterson Foundation, which is led by David Walker, the former U.S. comptroller general who resigned because of Congress' indifference to the sea of red ink.
Mr. Walker recently played a key role in the Fiscal Wake-Up Tour that is traveling state-to-state trying to alert the public of how huge and how damaging the nation's fiscal crisis could be.
Among those interviewed for the film were Paul O'Neill, former Treasury secretary; Paul Volcker, former chairman of the Federal Reserve; Mr. Buffett, the multibillionaire investor; Mr. Walker; and Alan Greenspan, former chairman of the Federal Reserve.
Directed by Patrick Creadon (who also directed "Wordplay"), "I.O.U.S.A." could be compared in some ways to "An Inconvenient Truth" and Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11" with its candid interviews, archival footage and economic data. But in other ways, Mr. Wiggin said there was no comparison.
"We intentionally didn't want to make it like 'Inconvenient Truth' or any Michael Moore film," he said. "We wanted to make this entertaining but also convey the important message of the crisis we face.
"There are no microphones in people's faces. We didn't set out to embarrass any public officials because we didn't want the message to be dismissed that easily. It's not sensational, and it is still a very entertaining film."
First Published August 19, 2008 12:00 am