Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Hot Docs 2014 Film Review - Everyday Rebellion

The New York City police thought they had a great idea to quiet the participants in the Occupy Movement. The banned the use of mega phones at their rallies. The members of the movement found another way to get their message out. A speaker would begin their story with the first sentence that was repeated by the group, followed by the second sentence that was repeated by more of the group. As the speaker got the end of the first stanza everyone in earshot repeating the sentence producing a sound greater and seemingly more unified that a megaphone could have ever produced.

The scene shifts to Madrid Spain focusing on the phenomenon of renters being kicked out of their homes.  The situation is so dire that many appear in second floor windows threatening to jump when the authorities come to move them out. Unfortunately many of them actually jump to their deaths rather than face eviction onto the streets. The main player in Madrid is Juan Carlos Aiyza who is facing eviction and a leader in the fight for the basis rights of citizens: housing, employment, culture, health and education. Citizens should also have the right to political participation and free personal dealing.

Another featured activist in is Inna Sherchenko a leading figure in the group Femen in the Ukraine. The group feels that their constituents have been raped by Europe therefore they appear half naked in silent with protest signs to demonstrate their point. After a stunt that goes a bit to far  Sherchenko finds herself on the run from the KGB and the subject of death threats that force her to leave the Ukraine.

The directors Arash and Arman Riahi present a film on non violent political activism in the modern world. They bring their cameras to the Youth for democracy summit in Copenhagen and feature Erica Chenoweth and Srdja Popovic two large proponents of non violent action. The two experts present the facts on the gulf of better success with non-violent over violent protests. The experts point out that personal risk is not a necessity to be active. You can sow support by banging on a pan outside your window at a pre-appointed time at night, turn a light on and off in your home in unison with your neighbours or spread your message through graffiti.

The production does suffer from an attempt to be too overreaching. In addition to the four locals mentioned above the film also checks in on and follows activist in Iran, London, Egypt, Syria and Jordan.

Everyday Rebellion spans the globe looking at civil disobedience and peaceful forms of protest. The leaders are ordinarily people changeling the establishment as the demand change. The film could have been served better with a narrow focus and further development of few individual movements to find out more about an end goal.  As the majority of the protest featured are ongoing it's too early to declare a final verdict. The directors may want to revisit two or three of the main movements in 3 to 5 years time to be in a better position to measure success or failure.

*** out of 4

Everday Rebellion | Arash T. Riahi /Arman T. Riahi | Austria/Switzerland/Germany | 2013 | 118 Minutes.

Tags: Non Violent, Occupy, Demonstrate, Shock, Sit In, Political Unrest, Banks.

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