Heist: Who Stole the American Dream? (Frances Causey and Donald Goldmacher) USA

Reviewed by Rosanna Lapinski. Viewed at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival.

Heist: Who Stole the American Dream, blames big banks and corporations for the 2011 collapse of the nation’s financial institutions. In this documentary call-to-action, the filmmakers assert that America’s economic crisis is the result of a “brilliantly executed coup” by the “richest 1%.”  Through rampant deregulation, tax breaks, and corporate lobbying, these rich organizations and wealthy individuals have pulled off the biggest heist in American history.

Heist is written and directed by Frances Causey, formerly with CNN news, and co-directed by Donald Goldmacher. Thom Hartmann, a radio talk show host, narrates and gives the film the feel of a Madison Avenue production. Prominent corporate executives, politicians and pundits spotlight the transgressions of corporate greed that results in the failure of America’s financial institutions. American Airlines former President and Chair Robert Crandall, Maryland Congresswoman Donna Edwards, Pulitzer Prize winning journalist David Cay Johnston, Rebuild the Dream’s Van Jones, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and Media Matters for America’s David Brock provide their insights.

Heist opens with footage of Occupy Wall Street, a movement that began just a few weeks before the film’s premiere. As a result of the producer’s and director’s thoughtful insight and careful analysis, the release of Heist stunningly coincided with these mass protests, so deep was the filmmakers’ understanding of the impending economic collapse.

An entry in the Fund for Santa Barbara Social Justice Award for Documentary Film for the 2012 Santa Barbara International Film Festival, Heist devotes the last third of the film to a call to action:  for the restoration of the Fairness Doctrine, repealed by Ronald Reagan; an end the monopolization of media markets by mega firms that control the news; and to take private money out of political elections. Heist urges Americans to re-claim their country’s economy from those who have collectively defrauded them: the banks, the media, and the politicians. This is a brilliant film that will incite you to riot and rebel.

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