Jennifer Baichwal's documentary, inspired by Ms. Atwood's book, tries to keep up with that writer's agile mind and to flesh out some of her ideas in concrete images and specific stories. With Ms. Atwood herself on hand to provide commentary and intellectual guidance, Ms. Baichwal contemplates a blood feud in northern Albania, the terrible working conditions of tomato pickers in Florida and the aftermath of the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Her interview subjects include participants and witnesses, and also a smattering of experts, among them the economist Raj Patel, the ecologist William Rees and the religion scholar Karen Armstrong. The testimony is often fascinating, and the stories are gripping, in particular the grim Albanian situation, a land dispute between neighbors bound up in a deep and ancient code of honor and vengeance
Margaret Atwood’s visionary work Payback: Debt and the Shadow Side of Wealth is the basis for this riveting and poetic documentary on "debt" in its various forms - societal, personal, environmental, spiritual, criminal, and of course, economic. Filmmaker Jennifer Baichwal (Manufactured Landscapes) strikingly interweaves these (sometimes surprising) debtor/creditor relationships: two families in a years-long Albanian blood feud; the BP oil spill vs. the Earth; mistreated Florida tomato farm workers and their bosses; imprisoned media mogul Conrad Black and the U.S. justice system. With stunning cinematography and insightful commentary from renowned thinkers Raj Patel, Louise Arbour and Atwood herself, Payback is a brilliant, game-changing rumination on the subject.