Capital in the 21st Century by French economist Thomas Piketty has sold nearly three million copies worldwide. It has now been made into a documentary directed by New Zealander Justin Pemberton.

IT WAS IN AUGUST 2016 that work began translating Thomas Piketty's monumental economic work Capital in the 21st Century to film. The task to condense the 700 page book to two-hour documentary form was grasped by two New Zealanders, Emmy-nominated documentary director Justin Pemberton (The Golden Hour) and producer Matthew Metcalfe (Beyond the Edge).

Justin Pemberton lives in Auckland. His last project was Chasing Great, a film about former All Black captain Richie McCaw.

Matthew Metcalfe acquired the rights to Capital and hired Pemberton to make the documentary.

Pemberton told The Hollywood Reporter that, despite the subject matter, the documentary was not a 'dry economic story'.

"It’s an epic story that spans 400 years, and capitalism is a mesmerising protagonist. It’s both the beauty and the beast. It’s going to be a ride. It’s not just dry economists talking. It's war, it’s revolution, it’s Gordon Gekko, it’s Montgomery Burns from The Simpsons.'

Capital in the 21st Century is a New Zealand-France co-production and serious money has been invested in the making of the film. Christchurch-born  Metcalfe says the budget was at “upper end of feature documentaries.” The New Zealand Film Commission has provided some of the funding in conjunction with the French film and distribution company Studiocanal.

When the documentary was announced Thomas Piketty told the media that "Movies can be a very powerful way to talk about inequality and to raise public awareness and to contribute to the political mobilisation and political action."

Capital in the 21st Century will have its first public screening at the Sydney Film Festival on June 13.


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