National Film Board of Canada options Margaret Atwood's critically acclaimed book, Payback: Debt and the Shadow Side of Wealth

    TORONTO, April 27 /CNW Telbec/ - The National Film Board of Canada is
pleased to announce that it has optioned the film rights to the non-fiction
book Payback: Debt and the Shadow Side of Wealth by the incomparable poet,
novelist and essayist Margaret Atwood. To translate Atwood's exploration of
debt to film, NFB producer Ravida Din sought out award-winning filmmaker
Jennifer Baichwal to direct.
    "This is a brilliant book on a timely subject by one of the most
accomplished writers in the world. It made complete sense to me that the NFB
should produce this documentary," commented NFB producer Ravida Din. "I am
always thinking about the NFB's unique and integral role in culture, in
artistic excellence and in producing thought-provoking social documentaries.
Jennifer will bring her usual intensity and very clever approach to this
subject. A collaboration with Margaret Atwood felt as obvious as a
collaboration with Jennifer."
    "The writing in Payback is so rich and acute that the ideas literally
jumped off the page when I read it. It was brimming with cinematic
possibilities," added Jennifer Baichwal. "I can't say what an honour it is to
be working with Margaret and what a pleasure to be working with Ravida and the
NFB, perhaps the most vital bastion of support for feature documentaries in
    Margaret Atwood said, "The documentary will have many wonderful visual
elements that will enlarge the understanding of the story. I'm thrilled to be
working with Jennifer and Ravida on this project. I am confident that they
will do an excellent job."
    Margaret Atwood's Payback is not a book about practical debt management
or high finance, although it does touch upon these subjects. Rather, it is an
investigation into the idea of debt as an ancient and central motif in
religion, literature and the structure of human societies. By investigating
how debt has informed our thinking from preliterate times to the present day
through the stories we tell each other, through our concepts of "balance,"
"revenge," and "sin," and in the way we form our social relationships, Atwood
shows that the idea of what we owe one another - in other words, "debt" - is
built into the human imagination and is one of its most dynamic metaphors.
Payback is a finalist for the 2009 National Business Book Award, a selected
title of the 2008 Globe and Mail Top 100 Book of the Year and has been awarded
Silver in the 2008 Axiom Business Book Awards - Business Ethics. Payback was
released in October 2008 by House of Anansi Press (less than)

    Payback: Debt and the Shadow Side of Wealth will be produced by Ravida

    This is Atwood's first collaboration with the NFB. In 1984, the NFB
documented the life of one of Canada's most elusive literary figures in
Margaret Atwood: Once in August (1984). This film has been added today to the
NFB's online Screening Room at (less than) than). Payback: Debt
and the Shadow Side of Wealth is Baichwal's second project with the NFB. Her
first NFB film was Manufactured Landscapes (2006), which she directed and
produced along with Nick de Pencier, Daniel Iron, Peter Starr (NFB) and Gerry
Flahive (NFB).

    About the Producer

    Ravida Din has an uncompromising commitment to social justice and
feminism. It is integral to her work and a strong guiding principle towards
bringing an insightful and engaging analysis to social documentary film. In
her position as the NFB's Quebec Executive Producer, her mandate is to
envision and manage a varied program of theatrical and television
documentaries, community-based media and alternative drama. Recent credits
include: Up the Yangtze (Genie Award for Best Documentary 2009, Sundance
2008), Baghdad Twist (TIFF 2008), Nollywood Babylon (Sundance 2009) and
Roadsworth: Crossing the Line (Hot Docs 2009).

    About the Filmmaker

    Jennifer Baichwal has been directing and producing documentaries for 15
years. Her films have played all over the world and won awards nationally and
internationally. Her last feature, Manufactured Landscapes, about the work of
artist Edward Burtynsky, won Best Canadian Feature Film at TIFF 2006 and was
released in 12 countries. Act of God, a documentary about the metaphysical
effects of being struck by lightning, is opening the Hot Docs Film Festival
2009 and will be released by Mongrel Media in Canada on May 1, 2009. It was
commissioned by Documentary, Channel 4 and Arte France.

    About the Author

    Margaret Atwood is one of the world's preeminent writers - winner of the
Booker Prize, the Scotiabank Giller Prize and the Governor General's Literary
Award, among many other honours. She is the bestselling author of more than
thirty-five books of poetry, fiction and nonfiction, including The Handmaid's
Tale, Alias Grace, The Blind Assassin and Oryx and Crake. She lives in Toronto
and on Pelee Island in Lake Erie. She and her spouse, writer Graeme Gibson,
are the Joint Honourary Presidents of the Rare Bird Club within Birdlife
International. She is an International Vice President of PEN.

    About the National Film Board of Canada

    The world changes, our stories live on - that's the National Film Board
of Canada's pledge to Canadians as it marks its 70th anniversary in 2009 with
a new national online Screening Room and a slate of bold, innovative
productions. Canada's public film producer and distributor, the NFB produces
and distributes social-issue documentaries, auteur animation, alternative
drama and digital content that provide the world with a unique Canadian
perspective. In collaboration with its international partners and
co-producers, the NFB is expanding the vocabulary of 21st century cinema and
breaking new ground in form and content, through community filmmaking
projects, cross-platform media, interactive cinema, stereoscopic animation -
and more. Since the NFB's founding in 1939, it has created over 13,000
productions and won over 5,000 awards, including 12 Oscars and more than 90
Genies. To watch over 1000 productions online or for more information, visit

    For a downloadable hi-res image, go to

    /NOTE TO PHOTO EDITORS: A photo accompanying this release is available on
    the CNW Photo Network and archived at
    Additional archived images are also available on the CNW Photo Archive
    website at Images are free to accredited
    members of the media/

For further information:

For further information: Melissa Than, NFB Publicist, (416) 952-8960,
Cell: (647) 248-9854,

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