The Panama Papers – the story of how a small team of investigative journalists from a German newspaper stumbled across the scoop of a lifetime, and then shared it with hundreds of other reporters worldwide – is compulsive viewing.
As compelling as a police procedural, Alex Winter’s documentary plays like a thriller where the tensions builds slowly but surely to a spate of arrests and the downfall of (some of) the high and mighty exposed in a massive leak of material from Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca.
This is a film that exposes the multi-billion global business in tax evasion, systematic legal abuses and the corruption of lawyers, bankers and politicians in effecting what the anonymous whistle-blower ‘John Doe’ (whose words are voiced by actor Elijah Wood) says is still called «capitalism, but it is tantamount to economic slavery.»
The sheer scale of lost tax revenues – more than $200 billion a year in the US and major Western countries alone – helps explain why the past few decades have been so kind to the extremely wealthy, the top 1 per cent of whom now own more than the combined assets of the other 99 per cent.
This is a film that reveals the obscene human cost of the greed and effective theft from the public purse, the poverty and wasted creative potential of billions.
It is a film that should be shown in every favela, shantytown, village, town and city square across the world. It deserves the widest possible release and international television peak time slots.
The Panama Papers also highlights the invaluable role of public service journalism in an age where right-wing forces of darkness are desperately pushing a ‘post-fact’ agenda where ‘truth’ is deemed to no longer have any meaning or value.
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