Arts and Entertainment

The national debt demystified, on film

Not the best date movie, but surely a matinee that matters. - Courtesy Photo
Not the best date movie, but surely a matinee that matters.
— image credit: Courtesy Photo

The Bainbridge Island film series 'Matinees that Matter' continues with a documentary on debt — ‘I.O.U.S.A.’

As if the headlines weren’t alarming enough.

Here’s a two-hour film of high-ranking (or formerly high-ranking) economic players raising the red flag on the rabid financial beast of America’s economic policy. It follows former US Comptroller General Dave Walker (who served under three presidents) crisscrossing the nation, explaining the country’s unsustainable fiscal policies to its confused and sometimes clueless citizens.

Amazingly, Roger Ebert reports, “it demystifies the national debt.”

It’s candidly titled “I.O.U.S.A.”

Probably not the best date night. Probably not the most enjoyable two hours you could spend at the theater. Probably won’t leave your head for days.

But it could be one of the most important movies you see all year.

Nationwide, film critics and everyday joe moviegoers have labeled it as such, accompanied by phrases like “equal parts enlightening and alarming,” “unexpectedly frightening” and “crucial viewing for anyone who claims to care about America.”

It debuted last August ‚Äî before the proverbial bottom fell out ‚Äî prior to all the Congressional bailouts and President Obama’s recently proposed $3.6 trillion budget for 2009. The CNN news network ran the documentary’s broadcast TV debut earlier in January along with an economic update, and the news is not good.

The film comes to the Lynwood Theatre this weekend as the next installment of the local on-going film series Matinees that Matter, which kicked off last month with a similarly enlightening and alarming documentary on the state of America’s oil addiction “FUEL.”

This month the series takes on America’s addiction to unhealthy consumerism. Next month, it’s the World Water Crisis. But it’s not all gloom. As with any good addiction treatment program, the first step, they say, is admitting that there’s a problem.

BOTH SHOWINGS OF ‘I.O.U.S.A.’ — 5 p.m. March 28 and 29 at the Lynwood Theater, 4569 Lynwood Center Road on Bainbridge — will be followed by discussion with local finance experts Dr. Lewis Mandell, Senior Fellow at the Aspen Institute, and Kermit O. Hanson Visiting Professor of Finance and Business Economics at the University of Washington’s Foster School of Business. Also, next week, the Sustainable First Mondays Discussion series focuses on the topic “Strengthening Our Local Economy” April 6 at Eagle Harbor Books. Info:,,

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