Skip to main content

GI and UBI at the Movies

July 17, 2023

As guaranteed income and universal basic income gain momentum in public discourse, so too have films that shed light on the histories and headways of these movements. Three recent documentaries—It’s Basic, Storming Caesars Palace, and Inherent Good—follow the grassroots activists, community members, critics, figureheads, and movement leaders involved in the complex fight for economic and social equity. Please join us in learning more about these films, their stories, and the people whom they spotlight.



“Director Marc Levin follows a variety of participants as they use their incentives in ways that quash the stereotype of poor people abusing ‘free money.’ From a formerly homeless single mother of four barely getting by with an ‘essential job,’ to a low-wage working couple with a child, to one particular GBI program designed for newly released prisoners. Levin also looks at the mayors who are behind the programs in their cities, and their commitment to educate and promote an idea whose past supporters ranged from Martin Luther King Jr. to Richard Nixon. With great intimacy and hopeful stories, It’s Basic tracks the gathering momentum toward a philosophy of lifting up those that are struggling to survive in the world’s richest country.” Read more about the 2023 It’s Basic Tribeca Film Festival premiere here.



“When Ruby Duncan faces the stigma and harassment of a fraud-obsessed and broken system, she ignites ‘Mother Power,’ mobilizing a welfare rights group to march down the Strip demanding dignity, justice, democratic participation, and an adequate income in 1971. Based on the book Storming Caesars Palace: How Black Mothers Fought Their Own War on Poverty by Annelise Orleck, the film challenges the pernicious lie of the ‘Welfare Queen,’ and highlights the visionary leadership of low-income grassroots organizers whose courage, tenacity and dreams could not be quashed, against all odds.” Read more about the 2023 Storming Caesars Palace PBS Independent Lens premiere here.



“In an urgent call to address America’s growing economic uncertainty and wealth disparity, comedian Trae Crowder leads us on a journey through the South, examining a transformative idea of giving unconditional cash to every citizen – no strings attached. Inherent Good introduces an increasingly popular grassroots policy, Universal Basic Income (UBI), as a vehicle to transform the American economy into one that is thriving, sustainable, and centered around the well-being of all people.” Read more about Inherent Good’s mission here.


Header credit and image description: Image from Storming Caesars Palace. Portion of the Operation Nevada crowd marching down the Vegas Strip. Ruby Duncan walks beside Ralph Abernathy, George Wiley is also featured. A large crowd of people assembles outside on a busy street in Las Vegas. Some people hold a large banner that says, “Nevada Welfare Rights Org.”