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To Catch a Dollar: Muhammad Yunus Banks on America

Rich story of a man who has devoted his life to uplifting poor women through collateral-free "microloans."

With:
With: Muhammad Yunus, Shah Newaz, Alethia Mendez.

The rich story of a man who has devoted his life to uplifting poor women through collateral-free “microloans” gets borderline bankrupt treatment in “To Catch a Dollar: Muhammad Yunus Banks on America.” The Nobel Prize-winning Yunus appears exempt from characterization or even questioning as the docu strains to focus on two Queens-based beneficiaries of his community-building Grameen Bank. Eager to support the cause, the film declines to explain any number of fine-print details, including what happens to those who can’t repay their loans. Beyond its use as a promotional tool for Grameen, “Dollar” has few if any commercial prospects.

Lacking the slightest investigation, the docu catches glimpses of jetsetting Yunus hobnobbing with celebs and investors, but never seems to wonder how he lives at home. Nearly as undefined are a hairdresser and baker who endeavor to start businesses with Grameen’s help while remaining one-dimensionally grateful onscreen. By default, the pic’s most fully rounded figure is Alethia Mendez, a young manager of the bank’s newly formed Queens branch and an exception to the film’s evident rule to exclude frustration in favor of positivity. Tech-wise, director Gayle Ferraro’s “Dollar” appears stretched.

To Catch a Dollar: Muhammad Yunus Banks on America

Production: An Aerial Prods. presentation, in association with Stories of Change, Impact Partners. Produced by Gayle Ferraro. Executive producers, Cara Mertes, James Butterworth, Dan Cogan. Directed by Gayle Ferraro.

Crew: Camera (color, DV), William Megalos, Ferraro; editor, Keiko Deguchi; music, Claudio Ragazzi. Reviewed at Sundance Film Festival (Spotlight), Jan. 27, 2010. English, Spanish, Bengali dialogue. Running time: 85 MIN.

With: With: Muhammad Yunus, Shah Newaz, Alethia Mendez.

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