Befitting its title, The End of Poverty? (Cinema Libre) begins with a question: In a world of so much wealth, why does so much poverty exist?

In search of answers, this documentary traces the history of poverty, from the conquistadors' plundering of Indian communities, through slavery and colonization, up to recent development philosophies that aided agriculture production in wealthy countries at the expense of farmers in the world's poorest countries.

The end of poverty? This loftiest of goals will remain elusive, the film suggests, unless there are changes to an economic system responsible for creating the world's rich-poor divide. Changes include relieving the debt of the poorest countries, reforming land and tax policies in those countries, and enabling them to extract and transform their natural resources for their own well-being.

Whatever your view of these solutions, this film will make you think. It raises a needed clamor. After all the questions, the film ends with a declarative sentence: 16,000 children die each day from hunger and related diseases. So the film's main question certainly needs to be answered sooner than later.

Roger Thurow is co-author of Enough: Why the World's Poorest Starve in an Age of Plenty.

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Directed By
Philippe Diaz
Run Time
1 hour 46 minutes
Martin Sheen, Amartya Sen, John Perkins
Theatre Release
December 16, 2009
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