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System Error
Directed by Florian Opitz
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Endless growth is a tenet of capitalism—larger markets, more products, new services. But can it really go on forever? Or are we about to ram up against its limits? And if we are, what happens then?

Shot in the US, Brazil, China, Germany, and the UK, SYSTEM ERROR explores the notion of endless growth in conversations with advocates such as a Brazilian soybean magnate, an algorithmic trader, finance journalists, and multinational executives—often letting the cameras roll while the interviewees themselves offer seemingly contradictory or incoherent arguments. (SYSTEM ERROR also features a brief appearance by financier and former Trump communications officer Anthony Scaramucci, who calls himself an “artist of capital,” and expounds on the inconceivability of an end to growth.)

The film is divided into chapters on subjects including the amorality of GDP, destructive agriculture, financialization, the decoupling of finance from the real-world economy, and automation. Each chapter opens with a relevant quote from Karl Marx and also features insightful commentary from ecological economist and sustainable development advocate Tim Jackson—who serves as a guide, offering clear explanations of sometimes complex concepts.

Award-winning director, Florian Optiz (SPEED, IN SEARCH OF LOST TIME and THE BIG SELLOUT) uses gorgeous shots of earth from the International Space Station to subtly comment on the finite nature of the planet. Also, cinematographer Andy Lehmann delivers brilliantly framed and filmed scenes: a massive Airbus assembly plant; the interior of a packed barn in a poultry operation that turns over 15 million birds a year; a Beijing traffic jam with haze-covered high-rises in the distance.

SYSTEM ERROR takes us from to the roots of the expectation of unlimited growth, particularly in the post-World War II years, to the financial crash of 2008 and beyond. Does the subsequent decade of simultaneous inequality, austerity, and soaring markets indicate that the system has become disconnected from reality? And by focusing on growth at all costs, have we created a system that is escaping our control and may destroy us?

“Interviewing experts including economists, industrialists, hedge fund managers, agribusiness farmers, engineers, and more, System Error examines the ups and downs of policies pursuing perpetual growth.”Video Librarian

An absolutely terrific documentary: smart and measured and full of necessary information.” TrustMovies

A very well made film, with impressive cinematography and great interviews... The madness of growth is clear and to the point! It's perfect. —DLF Kultur

In System Error, the two-time Grimme-Preis Award winner Florian Opitz breaks down the limits of growth and examines the theses of capitalism critics by means of impressive examples. —Finanz Nachrichten

International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA) 2019
33rd DOK.fest Munich
SWR DOKU FESTIVAL 2018 - Winner of the STZ Leserjury Prize

96 minutes / Color
English; Portuguese / English subtitles
Closed Captioned
Release: 2019
Copyright: 2017

For individual consumers (home video)

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This DVD is sold with a license for institutional use and Public Performance rights.

Subject areas:
Agriculture, Economics, Economic Sociology, Ethics (Business), Globalization, Political Science

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