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The documentary The Divide shows inequality is more than an inconvenient truth

The Divide documentary by Katharine RoundThe Divide is Katharine Round’s long-awaited feature documentary on inequality, and as it turns out, it was worth the wait.  

The book on which the film is based, The Spirit Level by epidemiologists Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett, draws us a clear picture of inequality in our society today. With more wealth in the world it is only a small percentage of people who benefit. This in itself is cause for concern, but the widening gap that is the result of this causes a lot more damage than meets the eye. In an unequal society we live shorter, unhealthier lives; we see more violence; more people addicted and in prison; we even see more teenage pregnancies and obesity.

Though the book makes its case for a more equal society by giving us stats, report outcomes and examples, Round, in her film, just gives us a glimpse of the lives of seven ordinary people from right across the spectrum.

They do not share the same line of work, they’re not even from the same country. So how then can we, as the audience, make an honest comparison? How can we see if justice in the sense of equality is really failing us?

It is hard to describe, but the poetic and beautifully shot film actually highlights to the audience the trades, fears and hopes which these people (from a Wall Street serving psychologist to a fast food chain employee and a prisoner to a nurse) have in common.

We are all afraid of the same things and we all wish for the same things. Not in the monetary sense but the bigger stuff in life, such as happiness, peace and the wellbeing of our loved ones. Through the honest interviews and careful observations, you will start to draw comparisons and are made to think.

The Divide does not preach, and the film is not a sob story, in fact, there’s quite a few opportunities to laugh. What the documentary does do is create empathy and engagement – a real understanding for the people around us. Whether you look up or down the spectrum: we are equal, so why the divide?

It is most certainly a film I recommend many people to see, and I would personally hope the film would be used for community and educational screenings as a debate will no doubt ensue.

I also hope we’ll see many more documentaries on the big screen made by Round in the coming years, as her subtle yet strong messages are packaged in an extraordinary piece of filmmaking. She set out to make “a film about inequality with the impact of An Inconvenient Truth,” and she succeeded – this feature is a real achievement.

The Divide will screen in UK cinemas from 22 April 2016.

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Alexandra Zeevalkink is a Dutch-born journalist living in London who founded DocGeeks in August 2011 in order to have a legitimate excuse to watch every documentary under the sun. She freelances for various publications and writes mainly about documentaries and the film production industry. When she is not blogging or watching films, she enjoys theater, photography and reading loads of books. She is always on the look out for potential partnerships with other creative minds.

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