IDFA: Free Money

Lauren DeFilippo, Sam Soko
United States, Kenya
English, Swahili, Luo

According to its founder Michael Faye, what GiveDirectly does is not an experiment, but when asked what he would call it, he falls silent for a moment. In any case, GiveDirectly is one of the fastest growing non-profit organizations in the world. It provides a universal basic income to residents of some of the poorest villages on Earth.

One such village is Kogutu in Kenya. The documentary follows the launch and the first years of the project. For 12 years, residents are to receive 22 dollars a month. Without passing final judgment on the initiative, the film reveals the gap between the idealism in the glass-windowed offices in Manhattan and the complexities of real life in the Kenyan village.

It’s not only the inhabitants of the village on the other side of the stream who feel unfairly left behind because they have not been selected for the program. A young woman in Kogutu also sees her hopes dashed when she’s denied the allowance. And although  the money does boost their living standards for some villagers, using it to build a future turns out to be not so easy.