The Bull Laid Bear

A film by Zanny Begg & Oliver Ressler

24 min., HD, AT/AU 2012

“If I walk in and say, ‘I am going to blow myself up’ in a crowded subway and extort somebody for money, you can probably get people to pay you a lot of money to not blow yourself up. The banks […] were effectively walking around with bombs on them all the time.”
– Yves Smith, The Bull Laid Bear.

“The Bull Laid Bear”, still

In their second collaborative film Zanny Begg (Sydney) and Oliver Ressler (Vienna) focus on the financial and economic crisis post 2008. The Bull Laid Bear “lays bare” the economic recession (bear market) that hides behind each boom time (bull market). The film pokes fun at the slippery justifications made for the bailouts and austerity packages by exploring how governments in the United States, and other countries such as Ireland, turned a banking crisis into a budgetary crisis at the governmental level.

“The Bull Laid Bear”. Installation view: “Taxed to the Max”, Noorderlicht International Photography Festival 2019, Groningen, 2019 (Photo: Hanne van der Velde)
“The Bull Laid Bear”, still

The Bull Laid Bear is structured around a series of interviews with US economists and activists including: William K. Black, a white-collar criminologist; Yves Smith, the author of the blog Naked Capitalism; Tiffiniy Cheng, campaign coordinator for A New Way Forward; and Gerald Epstein co-director of the Political Economy Research Institute in Amherst, MA. The material gathered from these four interviewees has been blended with hand drawn animations to create a quasi-fictitious criminal world of gangster bankers and corrupt courts.

Sydney based performer Singing Sadie provides a sound track for the film with a reinterpretation of Billie Holiday’s classic lament on money, God Bless The Child.

The Bull Laid Bear probes our collective “belief” in financial markets, unravelling responsibility for the 2008 financial meltdown and looking at some of the causes of the spiralling economic crisis in Europe.

“The Bull Laid Bear”, 24 min., HD, AT/AU 2012 {with Zanny Begg}
“The Bull Laid Bear”, still
“The Bull Laid Bear”. Installation view: “Political Imaginaries: Making the World Anew” (solo show), Wyspa Institute of Art, Gdansk, 2014

Concept, film editing and production: Zanny Begg & Oliver Ressler
Animation and drawings: Zanny Begg
Camera and interviews: Oliver Ressler
Vocals: Singing Sadie Piano: Mick Hana
Other music: Captain Ahab Camera
Singing Sadie: Arunas Klupsas
Sound Singing Sadie: Jon Hunter
Sound and image editing: Rudi Gottsberger
Special thanks to Nancy Folbre, Brian Holmes, Jon Hunter, Pascal Jurt, Arunas Klupsas and Singing Sadie.

Financial assistance provided by Kulturamt der Steiermärkischen Landesregierung and Australia Council for the Visual Arts New Work Grant.