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Film about debt-ridden America shown Monday

Jan. 21, 2009

KALAMAZOO--A documentary that created a stir with its telling portrayal of debt-ridden American society is coming to Western Michigan University.

"Maxed Out: Hard Times, Easy Credit and the Era of Predatory Lenders" will be shown at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Jan. 26, in Room 1025 of Brown Hall. An after-film discussion led by Dr. Norman W. Hawker, WMU professor of finance and commercial law, will follow at 8 p.m.

Directed by James D. Scurlock and released by Magnolia Pictures in 2007, the documentary focuses on the uncomfortable truth that America is crumbling beneath a staggering burden of debt. The predatory tactics of lenders are examined, as well as the lack of consequences from the government.

Scurlock also touches on related issues, including race, corporate malfeasance and political slight of hand. He takes a multi-media approach, incorporating statistics, news footage and interviews. Speakers include economics professors, debt collectors, pawnbrokers, investigative reporters, debt-ridden consumers and even Robin Leach (Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous). In particularly poignant interviews, Scurlock talks with those whose loved ones committed suicide because of their debt.

The film's screening, part of the WMU Ethics Center Film Series, is timely in light of the U.S. and global financial crisis triggered by the subprime mortgage meltdown.

The Ethics Center film series continues Feb. 23 with "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly," in cooperation with the WMU College of Health and Human Services' Book Read initiative.

Media contact: Mark Schwerin, (269) 387-8400, mark.schwerin@wmich.edu

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