The Film


PRICELE$$ is a filmmaker’s personal journey across America to answer a burning question: why are some of our government’s most basic policies, like food and energy, so out-of-date . . . and can anything be done about it? Sharing the suspicion of fellow-citizens, including a class of young civics students, that campaign money is involved, the filmmakers set out on a spellbinding — and at times hilarious — ride from rural America to the halls of Congress to find out more, because democracy is a precious resource. In fact, it’s PRICELE$$.

Habitat Media’s new documentary shines a light on the corridors in our nation’s capitol to reveal how campaign money from deep-pocket special interests can influence both, our electoral process and national policies like food and energy. In addition to time spent with seasoned lawmakers, lobbyists, and a few dauntless citizen watchdogs, the filmmakers visit farmers and an unusual group of Iraq War veterans with strong opinions about policies that have changed their lives. Meanwhile, a classroom full of amazingly savvy civics students provides comic relief. PRICELE$$ also offers a behind-the-scenes look at Arizona’s road-test of an electoral reform that some observers believe could free Congress from time-consuming fundraising and the corrosive influence of special interests and their lobbyists. Narrated by filmmaker Steve Cowan, PRICELE$$ was made on location in Washington D.C., New York, Florida, Kansas, Iowa, Wyoming, Arizona, California and Oregon.

Director’s Statement

Our non-partisan film is meant for the many citizens we’ve met coast-to-coast who deeply love their country but say they don’t truly feel represented — people too busy making a living or raising their families to watch what goes on in our nation’s capitol. People who read headlines, watch the blizzard of political TV ads, and suspect something is not right . . . but who don’t know exactly where the problem is or whether it can be fixed. How can it be that year after year, despite clear signs of some serious dangers inherent with our national farm (food) and energy policies, that Congress continues to direct the lion’s share of subsidies to older technologies that involve serious, long-term impacts? We have attempted to provide a non-partisan look at the root of this dysfunction — business-as-usual campaign finance in Washington D.C. where high-stake donors and lobbyists have daily access to powerful members of Congress caught in a desperate campaign treadmill. I hope that our film also helps viewers see that this seemingly overwhelming problem can be fixed when we find a new way of electing our leaders. We looked at one of many possible solutions to the problem that would be feasible if the political will were present.

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