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FILM SCREENING & TALK | "Free Lunch Society"


People tend to want to wield power. And that‘s why they also have an inner aversion to basic income. Because they can then no longer threaten a person with their workplace. If basic income were introduced because society is ready for it, the whole world would change. Then nothing will be as it was before.
— Götz Werner, Entrepreneur and Billionaire

On September 19, 2018 we hosted a screening of the Austrian-German documentary FREE LUNCH SOCIETY, a film about universal basic income by the Austrian filmmaker and economist Christian Tod, followed by a panel discussion with the director and experts from the field. Ugo Gentilini, Senior Economist for Social Protection and Jobs Global Practice at the World Bank, and Nathanael Goldberg, Program Director for Social Protection at the non-profit organization Innovations for Poverty Action, together with the filmmaker took part in a Salongespräch/panel discussion after the screening, which was moderated by Vanessa E. Beary, Adjunct Professor at the American University Kogod School of Business.

The debate was followed by a Q&A session and a reception.


What would you do if your income was taken care of?

Just a few years ago, an unconditional or universal basic income was considered a pipe dream. Today, this utopia is more imaginable than ever before – intense discussions are taking place in all political and scientific camps. FREE LUNCH SOCIETY provides background information about this idea and searches for explanations, possibilities and experiences regarding its implementation.

Universal basic income: Visionary reform project, neoliberal axe to the roots of the social state or socially romantic left-wing utopia? Depending on the type and scope, a basic income demonstrates very different ideological visions. Which side of the coin one sees depends on one‘s own idea of humankind: inactivity as sweet poison that seduces people into laziness, or freedom from material pressures as a chance for oneself and for the community.

From Alaska‘s oil fields to the Canadian prairie, from Washington‘s think tanks to the Namibian steppes, the film takes us on a grand journey and shows us what the driverless car has to do with the ideas of a German billionaire and a Swiss referendum. FREE LUNCH SOCIETY, the first international film in movie theatres about universal basic income is dedicated to one of the most crucial questions of our times.

The film has the potential to challenge people’s stances and get them to consider an unconditional basic income!
— Klaus Kofler, futurologist


Vanessa E. Beary | Adjunct Professor at the American University Kogod School of Business

Vanessa E. Beary is an entrepreneur, mixed methods researcher, and lecturer with a background in international education, development, and diplomacy. She has extensive experience in war zones and austere environments with the U.S. Departments of Defense and State. Vanessa spent thirteen months in Khujand, Tajikistan conducting her dissertation research as a Fulbright Fellow, lecturing at the Tajik State University of Commerce and Trade, and launching a social enterprise. She was awarded the Outstanding Civilian Service Award from the Department of Defense, the third highest public honor that the Army can grant to a civilian, for her work in Iraq. Most recently, Vanessa launched a digital forum where she interviews entrepreneurial leaders about how they explore the world, find and pursue their purpose, and create value for their communities.

Ugo Gentilini | Senior Economist, Social Protection and Jobs Global Practice, World Bank

Ugo Gentilini is a senior economist with the Social Protection and Jobs Global Practice branch at the World Bank. His interests encompass the analytics and practice of social protection, including with an emphasis on urbanization, disaster risk, fragile states and food security. He holds a PhD in development economics and has published extensively on those topics. Before joining the Bank in 2013, Ugo spent 12 years with the UN World Food Program working on a range of cash and food-based safety net issues.

Nathanael Goldberg | Program Director, Social Protection, Innovations for Poverty Action

Nathanael Goldberg directs IPA's Social Protection Program, which uses rigorous evaluations to improve and scale safety nets and livelihood opportunities for the poor. Most recently he managed IPA's Ultra Poor Graduation Initiative, a set of seven evaluations of holistic programs designed to enable the poorest households to develop sustainable livelihoods. Previously, Nathanael served as chief of staff of the Microcredit Summit Campaign where he supervised industry-wide data collection and led the organization of microfinance industry conferences. He has a BA in economics from Wesleyan University and an MPA in international development from Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School.

Christian Tod | Director, Free Lunch Society

Born in 1977 in Linz, Austria, Christian Tod is an accomplished economist, currently working on his dissertation thesis about universal basic income. His debut film, the Documentary„Fatsy –The Last Cowboy of Austria“ (2007) received an honorable mention at Crossing Europe Film Festival Linz in 2007. Christian‘s first feature length documentary „Es muss was geben“ (2010) was the opening movie at Crossing Europe‘s 2010 edition, was chosen for the official election at Filmfest München in 2010 and got theatrically released nationwide in January 2011. Being a success with both audience and critics, „Es muss was geben“ firmly established Christian as an auteur filmmaker. For his current and most ambitious film FREE LUNCH SOCIETY – COME COME BASIC INCOME, he used his scientific expertise and made a movie about the subject of both his diploma and dissertation: The universal basic income.

Free Lunch Society