“Somebody sold them a dream that was not true” states one former Lehman Brothers employee in Jennifer Deschamps informative documentary Inside Lehman Brothers. Dreams of the average American where not the only things crushed by the once powerful corporate entity. Like a black hole that devours and destroys anything in its vicinity, Lehman Brothers left many emotional scars on its employees, especially those who dared to question the company’s unethical practices. 10 years later several of those former workers are still struggling to cope.
Pulling together testimony from former employees – ranging from account executives to loan processors to several whistleblowers – Deschamps’ film serves as both a reckoning with the past and a cautionary tale about our future. Through the various interviews in the film, Inside Lehman Brothers spins a disturbing web of corruption, greed and intimidation. One key whistleblower, Sylvia Vega-Sutfin, who warned of the dangers of the firm selling subprime mortgages, not only fled to the woods for fear of her safety, but also began studying martial arts to learn how to kill with her bare hands as a precaution.
Although not everyone Deschamps speaks with has such a harrowing experience, some endured stress and depression, they provide valuable insight into how upper management at Lehman Brothers truly believed their methods would make money. Of course, it was the consumers, and not CEO Richard S. Fuld who walked away unscathed, that paid the ultimate price by losing homes, families and jobs. Deschamps’ Inside Lehman Brothers is an insightful and compelling reminder of how corruption pushed the world’s economy to the brink once, and how easily it can be there again.
Saturday, Apr 27, 9:30 PM, TIFF Bell Lightbox 1
Sunday, Apr 28, 1:30 PM, Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema
Friday, May 3, 6:15 PM, TIFF Bell Lightbox 1