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The imagination creates the future.
Art • Economics • Anthropology • Philosophy • Sociology 
2018. Director & Producer Robin McKenna. Producer Ina Fichman.
90 Minutes. English subtitles. Includes captions.


Inspired by Lewis Hyde’s beloved classic The Gift: How the Creative Spirit Transforms the World, GIFT is a richly cinematic film, interweaving character‐driven stories. On North America's Pacific Northwest Coast, a young Indigenous artist and carver undertakes the elaborate preparations for a potlatch - to make a name for himself by giving everything away. In Rome, Italy, a factory occupied by migrant families is transformed into a living museum, protected by a barricade of art: a model of resistance, and an invaluable gift.  In the pirate utopia of Burning Man, a mutant bumblebee art car distributes honey in a post-­apocalyptic desert landscape. Meanwhile, in Auckland, New Zealand, artist Lee Mingwei prepares to launch Sonic Blossom - a transformative gift of song.


GIFT is a tribute to something that can’t be measured or counted, bought or sold. Exploring the parallels between artists’ work and a gift economy, it’s a reflection on the creative process, the reasons we “labour in service of our gifts”, and the beauty and challenges of fearlessly giving and receiving.

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Reviews & Quotes


"Gift discusses the various aspects of giving and receiving (or not accepting). Beautifully photographed, this film is strong in its depiction of how art is tied into the philosophy of giving and the concept of our place in the world regarding generosity of spirit. Viewers will appreciate this glimpse into an alternative way of connecting with people."

"Recommended for art and philosophy lovers. This film is especially valuable for its profile of the late Alfred (1981–2016)."

New York University

"A beautifully crafted film and such a thoughtful exploration of the idea of The Gift... I especially loved the potlatch segment." 

"At a time when art is relentlessly commercialized and commodified, Robin McKenna's Gift provides a gentle and welcome reminder of other values."

"Robin McKenna’s elliptical, poetic, and visually arresting Gift examines the radical concept that creativity is not a commodity to be sold but a blessing to be shared."

"Thank you for this magisterial film, subtle as it is on the revolutionary nature of art and the power forged when we honor our gifts and give them away. A dream, a meditation, a call to action."

"Robin McKenna's GIFT delves into the truth and beauty of gift economy thinking. This is the film we've always wanted to make and here it is!"

"The gift economy is one of the most inspiring returns to deep, original culture. And it's not far off or impossible. Parents engage in the gift economy every day...unpaid, loving contributions to others. Does a ripe raspberry ask you to pay before offering itself to you?"

"GIFT is a poetic outlook on gift economies through art and cultural practices. It follows four storylines linked by creativity, generosity, resistance and defiance."

“Above all, GIFT honours the creative impulse, and asks us to reflect on what art has to offer humanity, regardless of its market value.”

American novelist

Jonathan Lethem

“More than a worthy tribute to one of my favorite books, Robin McKenna’s GIFT translates Lewis Hyde’s remarkable notion into new terms. A beautiful, moving, and thought-provoking reflection on the creative process and the things that make us human.”

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