Poor Us - An Animated History of Poverty

  • Ben Lewis
  • Netherlands
  • 2012
  • 58 min
  • World Premiere
  • IDFA Competition for Mid-Length Documentary, Why Poverty?
How is it possible that while as a society we're all getting richer and richer, there are still people who have to live in extreme poverty - especially when history teaches us that we've been trying to eradicate poverty for the last 2,500 years? In this documentary packed with animation, various historians and economists discuss key moments in our history that explain something fundamental about poverty and wealth. We are transported from prehistory (when nobody was actually "poor") by way of medieval Italy to 18th-century China, the Industrial Revolution and the colonization of parts of Africa and South America. The questions discussed in the film are accompanied by humorous and colorful animations - some involving dream characters who try to survive in different eras, and others featuring manipulated ancient illustrations. These sequences are intercut with clear, factual explanations by the experts, making us think about what we have - and haven't - accomplished in all those centuries. Who has an interest in other people's poverty? What forces are at work, and what lessons can we learn from the past to fight poverty today?


  • 58 min
  • color / black and white
  • video
  • Spoken languages: English
  • Subtitles in: Dutch
Ben Lewis
Femke Wolting for Submarine, Bruno Wille Felix for Submarine
Executive producer
Janneke van de Kerkhof for Submarine, Ilja Roomans for Submarine
Chris Dixon, Frank Lehmann, Martijn van Beenen, Ben Lewis
Fons Schiedon, Studio Birdo

IDFA history

World Premiere
IDFA Competition for Mid-Length Documentary
Why Poverty?

Share this film

Print this page

IDFA history

This website uses cookies.

By using cookies we can measure how our site is used, how it can be further improved and to personalize the content of online advertisements.

 here everything about our cookie policy. If you choose to decline, we only place functional and analytical cookies