‘Free Money’ Review: An Eye-Opening Look at Universal Basic Income in Action

The Hollywood Reporter

In one of her first meetings with the villagers of Kogutu, Caroline Teti, an employee of the fast-growing nonprofit GiveDirectly, tells them, “I know you’ve had a lot of visitors.” She’s referring to the various NGOs that have swooped into Kogutu and other corners of the African continent with big promises that often turn up empty. In her stylish dress and heels, Teti presents a new idea to these Kenyans, a program that that would give every eligible adult villager $22 a month for 12 years. “White people,” she tells the villagers, “call it redistribution of wealth.”

Free Money is an illuminating documentary from helmers Lauren DeFilippo (Red Heaven) and Sam Soko (Softie), who weigh the virtuous goal of lifting people out of poverty against the potential adverse effects of white-savior syndrome. Focusing on a few Kogutu residents over the GiveDirectly program’s first four years in their village, the filmmakers pose pressing questions for anyone who cares about economic justice and a global community.

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