Director: Jennifer Baichwal
Screenwriters: Jennifer Baichwal

Institute History

  • 2012 Sundance Film Festival


Jennifer Baichwal’s brilliant documentaries exemplify the alignment of form with content as she imaginatively transposes other artists’ work into the film medium to explore and expand their narratives. In her latest such project, Baichwal undertakes the ambitious task of cinematizing Payback, Margaret Atwood’s visionary book of essays about systems of wealth, justice, and reparation.

Seemingly disparate forays into the worlds of migrant tomato pickers in Florida, feuding clans in Albania, victims of BP’s oil spill, and a repentant inmate all mix with insights from thinkers like theologian Karen Armstrong, ecologist William Rees, public critic Raj Patel, and Atwood herself. Integrating Atwood’s words with their outlooks, Baichwal’s luxurious pacing, arresting imagery, and astonishing juxtapositions stimulate provocative associations among ideas and realities.

Both visceral and revelatory, Payback plunges us deeply into reconsidering the roots of social inequity, what we value, and debt’s profound role as an organizing principle in our lives—one that shapes relationships, society, and the fate of the planet.

— Caroline Libresco

Screening Details


As you use our Online Archives, please understand that the information presented from Festivals, Labs, and other activities is taken directly from official publications from each year. While this information is limited and doesn't necessarily represent the full list of participants (e.g. actors and crew), it is the list given to us by the main film/play/project contact at the time, based on the space restrictions of our publications. Each entry in the Online Archives is meant as a historical record of a particular film, play, or project at the time of its involvement with Sundance Institute. For this reason, we can only amend an entry if a name is misspelled, or if the entry does not correctly reflect the original publication. If you have questions or comments, please email [email protected]