Surplus: Terrorized into Being Consumers

by Erik Gandini
A film on over-consumption, the violence of MTV, Castro's advertising-free Cuba, and the vast emptiness despite our wealth.
2003  ·  54m  ·  Sweden
English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, Swedish
English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, Swedish subs
About the Film

Why is the lifestyle of consumerism a source of such rage today? How come the privilege of buying goods does not automatically lead to happiness? Why all this emptiness despite our wealth?

Shot in the US, India, China, Italy, Sweden, Hungary, Canada and Cuba over three years, it is the result of a complicated editing process by talented music composer, editor and percussionist Johan Soderberg. Showcasing George W Bush’s famous “shopping-speech” calling for a war against terrorism that deters the nation from the fear of consumption. Castro responding with hymns to the anti-consumerist, advertising-free island of Cuba. Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer preaching that the computer will give us peace on earth “bringing people together” while Adbuster Kalle Lasn warns that advertising pollutes us mentally, that over-consumption is unsustainable and that we are running out of oil.

At the center of SURPLUS, is John Zerzan, a controversial philosopher whose call for PROPERTY DAMAGE has inspired many to take to the streets. “That is not violence. Sitting there doing dope and watching MTV. Then you go and get a job. Just schlep along. To me that is violence,” says Zerzan. “We are terrorized into being consumers.”

“… This film about consumerism totally consumed us. It used the language of music video, propaganda and commercial advertising as a response to the forces of globalisation. It fights fire with fire. The questions it raises are ultimately more important than any answers it might suggest. And we believe audiences can only profit from the debate that will ensue. For its originality, sense of humour, irony, forcefulness and visual virtuosity, the Silver Wolf Award goes to SURPLUS.”

– The Jury of the International Documentary Film Festival in Amsterdam, November 2003.

“…juxtaposes images and music with great rhythm and technical perfection.”

– Il Manifesto

“SURPLUS is an open declaration of war on terror.”

– Adbusters Magazine

Upcoming Screenings

Stay tuned for upcoming screenings!

Festivals and Awards
Guldbagge Awards , Nomination for Best Documentary
Prague One World Film Festival , Czech Radio Award
Vila do Conde International Short Film Festival , Audience Award
Amsterdam International Documentary Film Festival, Silver Wolf Award
Amsterdam International Documentary Film Festival, , Best Film Award
Eric Gandini
Erik Gandini
Johan Söderberg
Erik Gandini
Soundtrack Composer
Gotan Project, David Österberg, Johan Söderberg, Tosca
About the Director

Erik Gandini

Erik Gandini is one of Sweden’s most renowned filmmakers. He has produced and directed a number of internationally acclaimed documentaries including SACRIFICIO (First Prize IDFA), SURPLUS (First Prize IDFA, Amsterdam Silver Wolf) and VIDEOCRACY, which was voted best documentary film at the Toronto Film Festival by a critics poll conducted by Indy Wire and chosen as one of the best documentaries in 2010 by The Guardian top critic Peter Bradshaw.

(Image courtesy of Institute of Documentary Film.)



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