The Foreign Aid Paradox

Directors – Rachel Grady & Heidi Ewing
Prev film Next film scroll down

Thank You For Watching


You may find these other films about %topicTitle% interesting:

You're Watching


Why does the U.S. fund foreign aid?
The U.S. spends approximately $37 billion dollars a year on foreign aid - just under 1% of our federal budget. "The Foreign Aid Paradox" zeroes in on food aid to Haiti and how it affects American farming and shipping interests as well as Haiti’s own agricultural markets. The result: a surprising study in unintended consequences.

Directed by Heidi Ewing & Rachel Grady
Produced by Rachel Grady & Heidi Ewing
Narrated by Erin Jackson
Editor: Rebecca Adorno
Cinematographer: Tony Hardmon
Music By: Paul Brill
Production Manager Christina Gonzalez
Archivist: Melissa Gomez
Sound Recordist: Mark Roy
Fixer: Sebastien Narcisse
Production Assistant: Huguens Saintil
Guiteau Bennett
Dr. Michel Chancy
Frederic Cupidon
Sanady Joseph
Tonny Joseph
Magguie Rigaud
Timothy Schwartz
Digital Intermedia Colorist / Online Editor: Rob Burgos
Post Production Facilities: Full Circle Post
Re-Recording Mixer: Chris Stangroom
Audio Post Facility: HOBO Audio
Animator / Graphics: Chris King
Legal: Victoria Cook; Frankfurt, Kurnit, Klein & Selz P.C.
Dean Cheley; Donaldson & Callif
Advisors: Jean Claude O Fignole; Alix Percinthe
Special Thanks:
Eric Munoz
Laura Rusu
Jonathan Stack
Jocelin Viller

Production Interns:
Aaron Brummer
Phil Cheney
Nelly Gargano
Michael Mooney
Jenny Natelson
Marissa Nicol
Sabine Fayoux-Cantillo
Andrew Forbes
Cassandra Lizaire
Archive Courtesy of:
AP Images
Clip Canvas
Andrew Ellis
Getty Images
iStock Photo
Producers Library
Streamline Films
Emery Way
Additional Archival:
40 Acres and a Mule Filmworks
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
Baraka Productions
Carwil Bjork-James
Bright Kauffman Crane Productions/Warner Brothers Television
Cable-Satellite Public Affairs Network
Chrysler Group LLC
Kent Clark
Department of Defense
Digital Video & Imagery Distribution System
Andy Earl
Luca Gargano
Imagine Television/Hurwitz Company/20th Century Fox
Haiti Mega
Ronald de Hommel
Ibiscus Media
Internet Archives
John F. Kennedy Presidential Library & Museum
Johnson & Johnson
Tom Krieger
Library of Congress
Ludo Kuipers / OZ Outback
Prelinger Archives
National Archives and Records Administration
New York Times
North Atlantic Treaty Organization
Ksenia Novikova
Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Library
Margaret Thatcher Library
United Nations Development Programme
United States Agency for International Development
United States Department for Agriculture
United States Postal Service
Vintage Italia
Grant Wood
© Loki Films LLC
All Rights Reserved.

Rachel Grady & Heidi Ewing

HEIDI EWING is the co-owner of New York’s Loki Films, which she operates with Rachel Grady. The duo was nominated for the Academy Award in 2007 for “Jesus Camp.” Last year’s “DETROPIA” looks at Ewing’s hometown of Detroit and what its epic crisis means to the nation. Additional credits include “Dissident,” about the dramatic world of Cuban politics, and “12th & Delaware,” (HBO) which investigates a crisis pregnancy center and an abortion clinic, locked in battle. Currently, Ewing is shooting The Arrivals, a narrative-documentary hybrid about two undocumented business owners in New York, searching for a way to stay in the country. RACHEL GRADY is the co-director of “Jesus Camp.” The film was nominated for the Academy Award and was broadcast in over 40 countries. She also co-directed “The Boys of Baraka,” which was nominated for an Emmy and won an NAACP Image Award. Grady won a Peabody Award in 2011 for “12th & Delaware,” which aired on HBO. She co-directed “DETROPIA,” which premiered at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival and won the Editing Award for Documentary. Grady, along with co-owner Heidi Ewing, runs the New York-based production company Loki Films.

Director's Note

“My early life plans were about becoming a diplomat or aid worker. I even went so far as to attend the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown, where (in my final year) it dawned on me that I actually possessed very few qualities that would make me a successful government employee (not diplomatic in the least - too many opinions!). So while I changed course to pursue filmmaking, my pals set off to far-flung corners of the globe, many to work in foreign aid. Of course, then, I was enthusiastic to explore this topic more deeply. 

My approach with this film is a civilian one. Rather than relying on aid workers and buttoned-up government officials, I decided to focus primarily on regular people to help me connect the dots on the vagaries of food aid to Haiti, all who (knowingly or not) are very much affected by complicated aid policies made in the U.S. I hope that they, as well as the jocular, conversational tone and strange old-time archive will make the subject accessible and persuade more people to further explore what is a fascinating subject filled with very high stakes.” - Heidi Ewing


What percentage of U.S. government spending goes to foreign aid?

  • 12% About 30%
  • 67% About 1%
  • 11% About 15%
  • 10% About 8%
67% of respondents chose the correct answer: About 1%.

The international affairs budget enables a variety of programs worldwide that promote the security and values of the American people. This budget fosters economic growth around the world, helps to ensure long-term stability, and reinforces a humanitarian ethos both domestically and abroad. The international affairs budget currently achieves all of these objectives for slightly more than 1% of the U.S. federal budget.

The main vehicle for U.S. government aid to poorer countries is what department?

  • 17% The Defense Department
  • 5% The U.S. Postal Service
  • 14% The Commerce Department
  • 65% The U.S. Agency for International Development
65% of respondents chose the correct answer: The U.S. Agency for International Development.

USAID carries out U.S. foreign policy by promoting broad-scale human progress at the same time it expands stable, free societies, creates markets and trade partners for the U.S., and fosters goodwill abroad.

What is the name of the international organization primarily dedicated to helping countries develop their economies?

  • 25% The United Nations
  • 7% The Federal Reserve
  • 33% The International Monetary Fund
  • 35% The World Bank
35% of respondents chose the correct answer: The World Bank.

The World Bank is a vital source of financial and technical assistance to developing countries around the world. Established in 1944, the World Bank Group is headquartered in Washington, D.C., and has more than 10,000 employees in more than 120 offices worldwide.

Did you know?

  • 5 of the top 6 recipients of foreign aid from the U.S. are Muslim countries – The #2 recipient is Israel.

  • The post-World War II Marshall Plan was the largest foreign aid program ever undertaken by the U.S.

  • The largest recipient of U.S. aid dollars in 2012 was Afghanistan, with $3.3 billion not including military aid.

Share this page


Message (optional)

    Vimeo Embed