Trailer: “Poor Us: An Animated History of Poverty”

“It’s the way the world works. Essentially, poverty is what makes the rich rich.”

Poor Us: An Animated History of Poverty is a new documentary by Ben Lewis, debuting this week throughout Europe, and on PBS in the United States. The special, will be shown on TV in over 70 countries, is an animated survey of over 10,000 years of poverty. It draws on interviews with economists and historians including Jeffrey Sachs (author, The End of Poverty), Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz, Esther Duflo (MIT Poverty Lab and author, Poor Economics), Tim Hitchcock (Council of the Royal Historical Society), Emmanuel Akyeampong (Historian of Africa, Harvard) and Oscar Guardiola (Author, What if Latin America Ruled The World).

The animation portions of the film were directed by Fons Schiedon, designed by Cesare Davolio and Maarten Janssens, and animated by São Paulo, Brazil-based Birdo.

The director discusses the film at length on his website. American viewers can watch the entire film on the PBS website. Otherwise, here’s the trailer:

(Thanks, Fraser MacLean)


  • Pedro

    Solo los ricos pueden verla en la web, porque colaboran donando o aportando dinero, esta limitada a que los pobres como yo no la veamos por no tener el dinero de aporte, y por ser pobre me discrina este film, esto es mas de lo mismo, FARSA-NEGOCIO-PSEUDO CONCIENCIA SOCIAL Y DE CLASE, otra mentira mas!

    • Fang

      Entonces explica como estas comentando en este video. Lo unico que te limita es tu propia mente.

  • Samjoe

    I wouldn’t just be calling this a lie, it is a attempt to explain how and where poverty got to where is is.
    Just tell this to the rich, and why we shouldn’t see this
    documentry. Sure, third world countries dictators wouldn’t want you viewing this. But calling it discrimination, that’s a stretch. And you weren’t prevented by anyone in seeing it. So I guess you where richer then you thought.

  • wever

    The homeless, and those people worrying about money all the time, has been nagging at my brain for years. Even today, poverty seems to me like a fate worse than death, simply because I have yet to experience death in order to know exactly what to expect. I’m glad animation will shed some light on it.

  • Fraser MacLean

    For those of you who have yet to see this impressively-researched, imaginatively designed and thought-provoking film – or any of the other episodes in “Why Poverty?”, the ambitious series to which it belongs – all I can say is, seize the first opportunity you have to watch it (or any of the partner programmes). The designers, Cesare Davolio and Maarten Janssens, are to be congratulated on what they have managed to achieve, working with head of animation, Fons Scheidon, Christiaan de Rooij (who provided the motion graphics) and the “Birdo” team in Brazil, headed by Luciana Eguti and Paulo Muppet (aka Paulo Manuel de Souza). As Director, Ben Lewis, points out on his own website, “If we want to make poverty history, ‘Poor Us’ tells us, we must first understand the history of poverty.” I imagine many other animation artists and technicians working in the wealthy developed nations may have experienced the same kind of discomfort I have felt from time to time myself, devoting long hours to one highly-polished animated TV advertisement after another, helping to promote various products – when so often the underlying feeling is that there are more important messages to be communicated. It’s heartening to see these same kinds of creative resources being put to such good use on a highly articulate and informative programme within a series that clearly sets itself a very difficult goal.

  • T.

    “Poverty is what makes the rich rich”

    There are undoubtedly some good points made in the film, but sentences like the one above are simplistic and, pardon my french, stupide.

    Not surprising that PBS would air this. They love all things Marxist, while they themselves draw revenues through capitalist advertising and, of course, donations and taxpayer dollars. They are propagandists, unfortunately, which is why you’d never hear them raise anything negative re Obama either during or after the campaign. You won’t hear criticism of the “Arab Spring” there, Benghazi, the “Strategic Plan for North America” or anything of the sort.

    The problem is not capitalism. The problem lies with ethics and morals (and lack of them). That’s why Communism has also never worked nor abolished poverty: It’s leaders are morally and ethically depraved and always enjoy the good life while the “little people” suffer.

    Kind of like the Obamas vacationing for millions upon millions on the taxpayer dime while millions of Americans truly suffer.

    • FoggyHorn

      I say, son, I say I think you need to cite exactly what vacation the Obamas took that cost the taxpayers millions – and don’t count security, because by that count all presidents cost millions.

      Watch the show son, then argue the issues, not innuendo and Fox host throwaway lines.

  • paul zeke

    this looks amazing. Anywhere online where a Canadian viewer could check it out? Damn region locks blocking it for me