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Commercialism or Community? New Film Suggests an Answer.

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Films typically have goals that can be measured in earned revenue and audience size, with only the most artistic endeavours throwing economic concerns to the wind in favor of critical acclaim. But very rare are the films that put at the top of the priority list “starting a movement.”

A new independent film called “Money and Life” will make its world premiere this Wednesday, March 20 in Seattle’s Independent Film Festival theater, the Cinema Uptown. “Money and Life” wants to change the world, like a viral idea or a religion; converting one mind, one life, one community at a time.

Economics is rarely thought of as sexy or entertaining — thus, a new world economy theory is rarely the subject of a film. The thing that will move people to see this movie is not exciting explosions or high drama, vicariously experienced through the actors onscreen. The driving force will be the instinctive urge to share the mental pyrotechnics created by a concept so familiar, yet exciting, that it must be discussed, shared and measured! This movie will have a shelf life of a lifetime, fuelled by word of mouth — people talking about the concept to their friends, sponsoring viewing parties, and, finally, referencing it as the turning point when they changed how they lived their life.

The message of the film? Simply that the pursuit of money should not be prioritized above creating a more fulfilling life. The film uses the economic crisis as a bridge to understanding that a lack of money is not the end of the world, it may in fact be a beautiful beginning to a new economy. One based on a gift economy, wherein if just one thousand people saw the film and committed to new courses of action and mutual support, that could start a cascade of change towards a just, resilient economy.

We were struck by the similarities between “Money and Life,” and the Brown Paper Tickets Not-Just-For-Profit business model, which advocates paying it forward as a means of growing business. We believe that by doing good acts, by going above and beyond the call of what would be expected, or even profitable, for a business, is a better way to create loyal customers and to generate good word of mouth advertising — the kind that you can’t buy. And, we’d rather put our profits into creating those “good acts” of paying it forward than into buying impressions. Similarly, “Money and Life” advocates individuals to engage in a “gift economy” and investing where your true values are, instead of just where your financial advisor predicts the greatest rate of return.

All of the film premiere events that are ticketed through Brown Paper Tickets will include it’s one of a kind, fee-free donation tool, where 100% of the funds are going right to the producers to help them to continue community engagement.

The film is consciously being distributed via premiere screenings in several cities, including: Seattle (Wednesday, March 20), Tuscon (Tuesday, March 26), San Francisco (Wednesday, April 10), Oakland (Thursday, April 11), New York City (Friday, April 19), Boston (Date TBA), Washington D.C. (Monday, April 22), Roanoke (Friday, April 26), Denver/Boulder (Sunday, April 28) and Vancouver B.C. (Tuesday, April 30). The hyperlinked dates are being ticketed by Brown Paper Tickets.

“Money and Life” will have a world premiere on May Day, May 1, 2013, when it will be available for digital downloads and streaming under a “pay according to your values or pay it forward” model. Physical copies of the DVD will be for sale at a low price point, but buyers will be invited to add a donation to help move the work of the film forward. They will offer suggested gifts for community and educational screenings, rather than require license purchases. The film makers see this grass roots community distribution model as their contribution to the gift economy that the film advocates and challenges everyone to participate in, in hopes that the film’s distribution will take on a life of its own, as leaders and communities use the film and associated tools to further their own efforts in creating the new economy.

Take an evening out, and join in an evening of exploring the questions of what true wealth really means, and generate ideas on how we can start to use money to forward our most deeply held values, instead of it holding so much power over our happiness.