betting on zero
"There should be a subgenre of documentaries solely defined by their capacity to incite righteous anger in the audience. Titles would include 'Blackfish,' 'Inside Job,' 'The Act Of Killing,' and Ted Braun's 'Betting On Zero.'"
Controversial hedge fund titan Bill Ackman as has put a billion dollars on the line in his crusade to expose Herbalife as the largest pyramid scheme in history. Herbalife claims Ackman is just manipulating the market to make a profit from short-selling their stock, but Ackman claims Herbalife deliberately targets low-income and immigrant communities and robs them of their life savings. While Ackman is under attack by rival (and fellow billionaire) Carl Icahn in New York, activist Julie Contreras rallies the Latino community to fight back in Chicago. Blending tales of high-stakes corporate intrigue and working-class people caught in the crossfire, Braun paints a stirring picture of the American Dream gone wrong.
Written and directed by acclaimed filmmaker Ted Braun (Darfur Now), BETTING ON ZERO premiered at TriBeCa Film Festival in April, 2016, where it earned a special jury mention for investigative filmmaking.
"It isn't a dramatization. It's a hard news documentary. And its message is all the more visceral because this fight that riveted Wall Street in 2014-15 is not only real – it's still ongoing."
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"Ackman-Herbalife Battle to Hit Big Screen With Distribution Deal" Bloomberg
"The Activist and Herbalife: Just Maybe Ackman's Right" New York Times
"Filmmaker says lobbying firm tried to 'thwart' screening of documentary" Washington Post
"The Herbalife Saga Is 'Far From Over'" Yahoo Finance
Watch Betting On Zero director Ted Braun's 4/15/16 interview on Bloomberg TV.
Watch Ted Braun's 4/15/16 interview on CNBC.
"Tribeca Fest: 'Betting On Zero' stirs Herbalife waters" LA Times
"Lights, Camera, Ackman: Herbalife On The Big Screen" Wall Street Journal
"Ackman-Herbalife Feud Gets Fresh Scrutiny at TriBeCa Film Fest" Bloomberg.com
Read Screen Daily's Betting On Zero review.
Read Indiewire's review of Betting On Zero.
Read Blouin Art Info's Betting On Zero review.
Ted Braun, Director
Writer-director Ted Braun’s critically acclaimed first feature film, Darfur Now, was nominated for best documentary of 2007 by the National Board of Review and The Broadcast Critics Association, and went on to win the NAACP Image Award for best documentary of the year. Warner Brothers distributed Darfur Nowworldwide and financed along with Participant Media, which spearheaded a global social action campaign. For his work writing and directing the film, the International Documentary Association awarded Braun their 2007 Emerging Filmmaker of the Year. In addition, the Winter 2008 issue of Movie Maker Magazine named him, along with Errol Morris, Oliver Stone, and Robert Redford one of 25 filmmakers whose work has changed the world. Prior to Darfur Now he wrote and directed award winning short form fictional films and documentaries for HBO, PBS, A&E and The Discovery Channel; he continues to work in long form non-fiction across documentary and scripted forms. Braun is an Associate Professor in Screenwriting at USC’s School of Cinematic Arts where he has just been appointed the Joseph Campbell Endowed Chair in Cinematic Ethics.
Glen Zipper is a founding partner with Zipper Bros Films and formerly the Head of Documentary Features for Exclusive Media’s Spitfire Pictures.
In addition to producing the Academy Award®-winning documentary UNDEFEATED, Glen recently produced the non-fiction horror film THE NIGHTMARE for director Rodney Ascher, DEEP WEB for director Alex Winter, KILLING THEM SAFELY for director Nick Berardini, A FASTER HORSE for director David Gelb, BETTING ON ZERO for director Ted Braun and executive produced ALL THINGS MUST PASS for director Colin Hanks.
Additionally, Glen is currently producing TREAD for director Paul Solet ("GRACE"), and ZAPPA, which set the record as the highest funded documentary in Kickstarter history.
Glen’s other prior credits include the Grammy Award®-winning FOO FIGHTERS BACK AND FORTH and the Emmy Award®-winning GEORGE HARRISON: LIVING IN THE MATERIAL WORLD. Twitter: @glenzipper
Devin Adair is founder of Adair Entertainment. Devin produced BREAK POINT, (JK Simmons, Jeremy Sisto, Amy Smart) which premiered at SXSW and BETTING ON ZERO with Glen Zipper, (producer of Oscar winner UNDEFEATED) with director Ted Braun, (DARFUR NOW), which premiered at Tribeca. Devin is in pre-production on GRACE, a film she wrote and will direct, produced by Trish Hofmann (GET ON UP, Emmy and Golden Globe nominated HEMINGWAY & GELLHORN, DEVIL, NOTORIOUS, THE NEW WORLD), Gabe Cowan, (SXSW audience award winner, CHEAP THRILLS, and numerous other films including Courtney Cox’s directorial debut, BEFORE I GO), and Laure Sudreau, founder of Ourobors Entertainment.
Previously, Devin served as Executive Producer at Boxer Films, Inc., in charge of Boxer’s film and television division.
Devin’s former post was Creative Director at Footprint Worldwide, overseeing the build-out of an action sports channel in mainland China that serves 12 million college students, anchored by ESPN’s X Games. She produced and directed interactive branded entertainment solutions for major global brands, and oversaw all related original content production in China. U.S. Brands included Oakley, Skullcandy, Warner Bros. Records and Linkin Park.
Devin chronicled her experiences as the first female coxswain on the Harvard Heavyweight Crew in the book, The Challenge (excerpt published, The New York Times Sunday Magazine) and has been inducted into the Harvard Varsity Club’s Hall of Fame. Devin holds an MFA in film from Columbia University.
Sonya Burres is the Executive Producer on the critically acclaimed documentary BETTING ON ZERO which premiered at this year’s (2016) Tribeca Film Festival.
Since completing her studies at the American Film Institute (AFI), Ms. Burres has worked as a producer, line producer and executive producer. She produced the award-winning feature, ALWAYS SAY GOODBYE and co-produced the film ZOE.
From 2001-2006 Ms. Burres and her two Norwegian partners operated a commercial production company, Brown Cow Pictures, that filmed internationally. She has produced projects for ShowTime and Channel 4, and writes about cinema and television for a variety of outlets.
A creative storyteller, Ms. Burres is particularly committed to making documentaries.
Burres was born and raised in Massachusetts, and lives in Los Angeles.
BETTING ON ZERO is the first film presented by Biltmore Films, an independent film production and development company based in North Carolina. Biltmore Films specializes in business and financial subjects.
ATTEMPTS TO suppress and DISCREDIT BETTING ON ZERO
Hours after Betting On Zero premiered at TriBeca Film Festival, where paid contractors distributed leaflets attempting to discredit the film, Herbalife launched an attack website. The website, bettingonzero.com, is a repository of false and misleading information about the film and is subject to periodic wild and dramatic revisions.
The initial version, which can be accessed here, made the case that Betting On Zero was funded by Bill Ackman, whose campaign to draw regulatory attention to Herbalife's business practices is one of the subjects of the film. This was a lie, and the company knew it was a lie, as it appears to admit on an updated version of the website in its description of its numerous meetings with director Ted Braun.
After the FTC announced it would force Herbalife to pay $200 million in restitution and completely restructure its business, the film's financier publicly discussed his involvement with the film in this interview on CNBC, and the company changed its tune. Here is the new version of bettingonzero.com, which argues that critics of multilevel marketing companies cannot be trusted to speak honestly about multilevel marketing companies, and that people who manage money for others cannot support documentaries about business and financial subjects that reflect their personal beliefs.
Incidentally, paid contractors posing as 'community activists' also leafletted the August 6 screening in East Hampton, NY, but at least on that occasion they admitted to one of the producers that they had no idea what the film was about.
Most recently, Herbalife's lobbying firm bought up more than 170 tickets to the Washington, DC premiere on October 7. Either they invited a lot of friends who didn't show up or they didn't want people to see it.
The core findings of Betting On Zero are practically identical to the core findings of the FTC after its multi-year investigation of Herbalife. This is not a coincidence.
For more information about what the FTC found, please view the FTC's lawsuit against the company here.