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Director visits UEL to discuss documentary about wealth divide

students studying at UEL

UEL students had the chance to question the director/producer of an important new documentary film about the widening income gap in western society after being treated to an exclusive screening.

Inspired by the critically-acclaimed book The Spirit Level, The Divide examines the growing gulf gap between rich and poor and the effect this has on society.

The film launched as a preview at Sheffield Doc/Fest, the UK's premier international documentary festival, in June this year. There it was picked up for distribution by the Picture House chain of cinemas, and will go on general UK release next spring.

The film’s director, Katherine Round, was invited to speak to UEL social sciences students by Dr Tracey Jensen, Senior Lecturer in Sociology and Social Policy.

“It’s an enduring research interest for me,” said Dr Jensen. “I do quite a lot on inequality and welfare. And in the School of Social Sciences, our induction and welcome and orientation for new students this year was around the theme of inequality.”

Dr Jensen learned about the film online when Ms Round was still trying to raise the necessary funds. It was financed through crowd funding and took four years to make.

“I would check in every few months to see if it was completed, said Dr Jensen. “Then I saw it was getting a release at the Sheffield documentary festival.  I couldn’t get up there to see it but I knew that we wanted to bring it to UEL because of the work we are doing around inequality.”

The film profiles seven characters from both the United States and the UK, some living on the bread-line and some relatively wealthy, but all battling to stay afloat.

The case studies include a psychologist who works on Wall Street, a housewife living in a gated community in California, a reformed alcoholic living in Glasgow and an inmate serving a 25-year sentence in a Texas prison.

Their stories are inter-woven with archive material charting the growing income gap to paint a lyrical picture of how economic division creates social division and personal anxiety.