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March 28, 2019 | posted by Lara Klaber in Filmmakers
John Papola, the writer, director, and producer of “The Pursuit,” developed his interest in economics as a result of crises. While he was working in New York in the television industry, the dot-com bust, 9/11, and a global financial crisis hit. It was during his daily commute into the city that he engrossed himself in economics, delving into audiobooks, podcasts, and TED talks.
During this time, Papola found the writings and talks of Arthur Brooks, the lead of this documentary. Papola was intrigued by the pragmatic approach that Brooks offered.
“I shared his fundamental motivation in thinking about economic problems in terms of how to empower those at the bottom, those at the margins of society,” says Papola. “I also came to share his dual belief in free enterprise as a positive force for good AND that it is fully compatible with a safety net.”
Although Papola was inspired by crises, and his film covers the difficult topic of poverty, it still is able to strike a positive tone.
“The Pursuit “cites undeniable progress in everything from literacy to infant mortality to billions lifted out of starvation poverty all in the last few decades.
And it all begins with Arthur Brooks. Papola remarks, “He (Brooks) truly loves people and takes a genuine interest in the concerns of everyone he meets… he went from being a thinker I admire, to a human being I respect.”
Although “The Pursuit” has a focus on the United States, it travels across the globe to film Brooks’ conversations—to Barcelona and Mumbai.
Papola’s film roars against the pessimist, and he encourages all of us to not despair.
“How can we make progress as a society if we delude ourselves into thinking everything is going to hell to the point where we miss what’s going right and fail to understand the things that really do work,” he says. “In short, there’s every reason in the world to be an optimist, even if it’s not a popular thing to be.”
–W. Connor Drake
PHOTO: In “The Pursuit,” John Papola attempts to bring a message that everybody can find worth listening to, regardless of personal bias. “I really hope that the film can demonstrate a different tone for engaging in debates about important issues,” he says.
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