Magazine article Screen International

'Generation Wealth': Berlin Review

Magazine article Screen International

'Generation Wealth': Berlin Review

Article excerpt

A disturbing documentary chronicles society’s obsession with success and excess

Dir: Laura Greenfield. US. 2018. 106mins

In a photographic and documentary career spanning over 25 years, visual anthropologist Lauren Greenfield has been drawn to the extremes of human behaviour around the world; from deadly eating disorders (Thin) to a billionaire couple’s attempts to build a replica of a French palace (Queen OfVersailles). Realising that the majority of her work shared a unifying theme of excess, Greenfield has worked since 2008 to wrangle her vast back catalogue into Generation Wealth; a multi-form project spanning exhibition, book and this documentary. The result is both a compelling, damning cultural observation and testament to Greenfield’s own visual artistry.

Greenfield’s personal approach gives the film a sharp intimacy

Greenfield’s talent as a sensitive, accessible filmmaker, coupled with the resonance of her subject, should ensure Generation Wealth attracts further festival attention following its plays at Sundance and in Berlin’s Panorama, after which it will head to SXSW. Limited theatrical play is likely, and the film should also do well on VOD platforms.

While documentary tradition might look to separate filmmaker and subject, GenerationWealth takes a deeply personal approach. Greenfield makes no apologies for how closely she is entwined with her subjects, or that the film is as much about exploring her own psychology as it is about those she interviews. Just as her subjects are embroiled in the pursuit of ‘more’ - be it in the form of money, fame or body image - so Greenfield realises that she, too, has an obsessive relationship with her work, always chasing the next perfect image. …

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