The Invisible Heart 
May/June 2019

May/June 2019 (Volume 34, Issue 3)
The Invisible Heart
(2018) 80 min. DVD: $29.99: individuals; $325: institutions. DRA. Outcast Films. PPR. Closed captioned.
Reviewer rating: 3.5/4

Does private sector investment help solve society’s ills, or just make things much worse? That is the question at the center of this documentary focusing on social impact bonds (SIBs), which often relies on Sir Ronald Cohen (a former refugee turned venture capitalist turned impact investor) to help put the concept into accessible context. An SIB is an investment of capital into one or another segment of society struggling with chronic failure (public schools, prisons). If certain markers of progress are achieved by specific deadlines, investors earn dividends that are paid for by appropriate levels of government (city, county, state, etc.). The latter can afford this, in theory, because measurable progress in education, as well as reduction of crime and drug use, will save taxpayers millions of dollars. The Invisible Heart takes a hard look at how SIBs operate in the real world of housing for at-risk populations, widespread drug use, low-performance classrooms, overcrowded prisons, and more. The evidence of real progress is mixed, but Canadian filmmaker Nadine Pequeneza wisely turns her attention to big ethical questions. Should the public throw in the towel on addressing problems through government, and instead privatize solutions? Can capitalism and the public good be partners? In an era when extreme income inequality has become sharply contentious, will voters support SIB investors who profit from human crises? This thought-provoking film is sure to spark discussion on the pluses and minuses of SIBs. Highly recommended. Aud: C, P. (T. Keogh)