PORT ANGELES — When this filmmaker set out to direct a movie about the income gap, he took it personally.
“I grew up knowing I was from a poor family because I got free school lunches — the scarlet letter a kid wears to let his classmates know his family is below the poverty line — all the way through school,” recalled Jacob Kornbluth, director of “Inequality for All,” the documentary to screen free in the Peninsula College Little Theater on Friday at 6:30 p.m.
“My mother raised a family of four by herself on a salary that ranged from $9,000 to $15,000 a year,” he said.
“I remember all the day-to-day tough calls my mother had to make — medical insurance for her kids or groceries? — the pressure of which weighed on her every second of every day,” Kornbluth writes on www.InequalityforAll.com.
Education was his way out. But before Kornbluth started making movies, he moved around, from a rough New York City neighborhood to a farm town in rural Michigan.
“I never forgot where I came from,” he wrote, “and I was always keenly aware of who had what in society.”
Kornbluth collaborated with Robert Reich, the University of California at Berkeley professor and secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton, to make the documentary.
There’s no admission charge to the Little Theater, which is on the Peninsula College campus at 1502 E. Lauridsen Blvd., and everyone is invited to stay after the film for a discussion.
“Inequality for All” is just one of Reich’s efforts to, as he puts it, help people understand the economy — and the widening gap between the wealthy and the struggling.
“People are stressed. They’re angry and frustrated, and the tide is only rising on that front,” Reich wrote.
“Their debt obligations are staggering, yet (if lucky enough to have a job), they’re working harder and longer than ever before . . . Until we can take a step back and understand the big picture, we can’t do anything to get ourselves out of this mess. Our democracy as we know it depends on it.”
“My hope in making this film,” Kornbluth added, “was that I would be able to take all of those experiences and use them to help make a film that a wide variety of people can connect to.
“I have lived among the most conservative and liberal people in America, in urban and rural communities across this amazingly diverse country, and have experience dealing with billionaires and homeless people and everything in between.”
The Peace and Justice Group, a coalition of Clallam County residents, is sponsoring Friday’s screening.
The film “gives us some darn good information about how [the income gap] happened,” said member Bill McPherson.
“It has a hopeful ending — sort of. It all depends on what the public does about it.”
“Inequality for All,” rated PG and 89 minutes in length, is also available on DVD and download via www.InequalityforAll.com.
For information about the Peace and Justice Group, email McPherson at email@example.com.
Features Editor Diane Urbani de la Paz can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5062, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.