Images: ©GoldenGirls

The film FREE LUNCH SOCIETY is playing as part of the TRANSITIONS FILM FESTIVAL and it is thoroughly engrossing, engaging and most importantly, accessible.  It’s about economics, but not as we know it.

Speaking back to us from the 24th Century, the documentary opens with big picture intent…stunning satellite images of our small blue planet but the voiceover is darker. “Over history … the land, water and air around us has been appropriated by a few.”  And, beginning in Alaska, the film will delve into how the riches of the Earth can be re-appropriated to enhance the lives of each human.  Alaska, you see, has the Alaska Permanent Fund which allocates money to residents.  That Fund has to do with current, and obviously finite, oil resources but the film strongly makes the case for global unconditional basic incomes for humanity.

Just a few years ago, an unconditional basic income was considered a pipe dream. Today, this utopia is more imaginable than ever before - intense discussions are taking place in all political and scientific camps. FREE LUNCH SOCIETY provides background information about this idea and searches for explanations, possibilities and experiences regarding its implementation.”

An unconditional basic income has the potential to detach work from income and the film peaks to, in its thorough yet concise repudiations, many of the negatives that might spring to mind.  The loss of a working class to service the elite, the attraction of idleness and the detrimental effect on work ethic are just part of the complexities that are addressed.   Through a combination of present day thinkers and historic or current experiments, the film explores and shreds any knee-jerk dismissals.

As to be expected there is no shortage of stats but the film captures and edits the public work of basic income proponents with an easy and involving style. They are, after all, the ones doing the explaining , not just to governments and institutions, but to the citizens of countries such as Switzerland.  For me, the stats are summed up by the Namibian experience where a village is a test case for an Unconditional Basic Income Plan.  “Within the first year, employment rose by 25%, the average income excluding the grant rose by 1/3, including grant the average income almost doubled, wages increased by 19% and self-employment revenue quadrupled.”

However, underlying the stats, the background and the ongoing efforts of non-labour income theorists, including business people, politicians, academics and social justice advocates, the film expresses an impelling drive for liberation and freedom.  And what that freedom would allow humankind to achieve… the statistics around lottery winners is especially telling.

And the future?  The film sees the future as exponential with the growth of labour saving tech.  From Watson winning Jeopardy to driverless vehicles, FREE LUNCH SOCIETY expresses a view that the use of leisure will become one of the crucial questions of these early 21st century years.  If energy is not totally consumed with learning for, finding and then keeping a job what else can be achieved?

Director Christian Tod sums it up “Globalization, automation, Donald Trump. The middle class is falling apart. One hears talk about the causes, rather than about solutions. Time for a complete rethinking.”  And this is the film to begin that discussion in the mainstream.

Rational not radical, insightful not emotional, FREE LUNCH SOCIETY is thought- provoking, intelligent film-making which sits perfectly in the Transitions Film Festival. Visions for a Better World.

FREE LUNCH SOCIETY will play as part of the Transitions Film Festival ( March 20 – 22nd) at Dendy Newtown. You can join their mailing list or the  view the full program at the Transitions FF website and on Facebook.