History Lesson: "The Shock Doctrine"

One of the most controversial docs at this year’s Sundance Film Festival was British director Michael Winterbottom’s The Shock Doctrine, based on the non-fiction book by Naomi Klein (Winterbottom had another controversial film in the festival, the fictional Jessica Alba-starring The Killer Inside Me). Though Klein’s book goes country-by-country, decade-by-decade describing how governments have used the element of shock in times of crisis to manipulate their constituents into accepting controversial laws and practices benefiting multinational corporations, Winterbottom chose to focus his doc on the region where these practices originated, in South America during the 1970s and 80s, and where they’re being practiced today, in Iraq.

Kicked off by Pinochet’s coup of Allende’s government in 1970s Chile, and put to use by the Brazilian junta and Argentina under Isabel Peron’s populist government, “shock therapy” has become the blueprint for corporate takeover of government for the past 40 years. For anyone interested in understanding the root of political and social unrest in South America, or conspiracy theorists wanting some well-researched evidence of the US’s foul play in Iraq, The Shock Doctrine is a must-see. Just be warned: you might feel compelled to tear up your passport and stop paying taxes after. The Shock Doctrine airs on cable and DirecTV starting January 28.

You can also watch Spanish helmer Alfonso Cuaron’s short film based on The Shock Doctrine here: