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Home: Dubai Film Festival 2004: Day 5: The Corporation

Based on debate instead of confrontations, skillful research instead of self-motivated needs and an astute understanding of its subject matter, ‘The Corporation’ is documentary film making at is purest and best. The reference of the title is obvious, the nefarious and often immoral money mongering methods of these big behemoths of power and authority and how they have shaped, destroyed and even influenced the present conditions of the world today.

Directed in stark contrast to the recent string of popular documentaries, this eye-opener of a film by Mark Achbar and Jennifer Abbott, is balanced in its portrayal and literally packed with unending amounts of information. It isn’t a smear campaign and it isn’t done for show, yet it remains honest and insightful. Made in purely old-school documentary style, the bulk of it consists of interviews from imminent personalities including Peter Drucker, Noam Chomsky, Michael Moore and Milton Fiedman. If you know who they are, you know that when they talk, the world listens. If you don’t know who they are, they still manage to have you nodding your heads with their meaningful and concrete opinions.

The material used to form the foundation comes from Joel Balkan’s book, ‘The corporation: The Pathological pursuit of profit and power’ and indeed that is how every corporations basic objectives are presented – as a set of traits analogous to a diseased individual suffering from acute mental disorder rendering him incapable of concern, empathy, guilt or remorse. Various cases are researched that clearly list the crimes and they are apparently endless: disregard for human life, underpaid workers, environmental hazards and the depraved use of media to exercise control.

At a seemingly massive running time of close to two and a half hours, ‘The Corporation’ isn’t really cinematic or for all tastes. Yet it achieves a level of relevance in a way that few other documentaries are able to by the strength of its urges. It has by now become a staple ingredient of business schools around the world and for good reason. Concepts such as the immoral practices of gaining competitive intelligence, perception management techniques, corporate sponsored students, human patenting and the endless debate related to privatization of the economy and capitalism are touched upon. There are many difficult questions asked, but instead of providing easy answers, examples of successful corporations are given to make the point. For those troubled by the increasing unease of the world economy and the staggering disparity between rich and poor, a viewing of ‘The corporation’ may not be a panacea, but it certainly offers a step in the right direction. - by Faizan Rashid [Rated 4.5 out of 5]

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