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Park Avenue - Money, Power and the American Dream

Why Poverty? Episode 4 of 8

740 Park Avenue - an exclusive apartment building in Manhattan - is currently home to more billionaires than any other building in the United States. Less than five miles to the north is another Park Avenue in the South Bronx, where almost 40 per cent live in poverty and life prospects are less promising for those stuck at the bottom of the American pile. As international attention focuses on the US elections, Oscar-winning documentary filmmaker Alex Gibney looks at inequality in the US through the prism of these two, near-adjacent places, to ask if America is still the land of opportunity.

"There's always been a gap between the wealthiest in our society and everyone else, but in the last 30 years something changed: that gap became the Grand Canyon," says Gibney. Through the story of the two Park Avenues, he argues that the extreme wealth of a few has been used to impose their ideas on the rest of America. By focusing on the residents of 740 Park, he asks questions about the influence of CEOs in Washington in return for tax policies that favour the ultra-rich. What chances do those at the bottom of the ladder have for upward mobility? Can someone who starts life on Park Avenue in the South Bronx end up living on Park Avenue in Manhattan?

Through archive and interviews with academics, political scientists, psychologists, former lobbyists and even a former doorman at 740 Park, Gibney's film is a polemical look at the socio-economic political landscape of contemporary USA.

A BBC Storyville film, produced in partnership with the Open University, Park Avenue screens as part of Why Poverty? - when the BBC and the OU, in conjunction with more than 70 broadcasters around the world, hosts a debate about contemporary poverty.

Release date:

1 hour

Last on

Tue 27 Nov 2012 23:20

Go to The Open University’s Why Poverty? website

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