by Jason Williams, Tue Jan 24, 2012 at 05:05:01 PM EST
About midway through the 2012 Sundance Film Festival here in Park City, UT, and I wanted to highlight a few panels and documentary films showcased for those interested in the point where independent film and political activism meet. Many of the documentaries selected to screen this year and related panel discussions coalesce around a common theme of activism and change. Links to specific films to watch for below, but first video of two panels streamed live at Sundance.org this week:
Prof. Drew Westen, Sen. Barbara Boxer, and author Magaret Atwood discuss the importance of activists telling a story in the fight against income inequality (highlights only), and The Power of Story: How Docs Changed Change (full session) moderated by CNN's Soledad O’Brien with panelists Robert Redford (Sundance Founder); Sheila Nevins (HBO Documentary Films); and Nick Fraser, (editor of BBC’s Storyville) comparing the art of doc filmmaking with the strategy of successful political activism. Watch:
Some of the documentary films screening at the festival that reflect the theme of story telling and change:
- - A Fierce Green Fire ("connected" activism)
- - West of Memphis (West Memphis Three)
- - Chasing Ice (climate change)
- - Detropia (Detroit's decline)
- - Finding North (poverty in North America)
- - The House I Live In (humanitarian costs of the War on Drugs)
- - The Invisible War (rape epidemic in the armed forces)
- - We're Not Broke (deficits and corporate taxes)
- - Big Boys Gone Bananas (corporate astroturfing and legal gamesmanship)
- - The Law in These Parts (Israel's legal system and Palestinian justice)
- - Payback (Margaret Atwood/social inequality)
- - 1/2 Revolution (activist footage from Cairo, January 2011) (Raw video I uploaded from the filmmaker Q&A on this one in three parts here. Amazing story.).
Just a handful of the films and discussions taking place I wanted to share (see the full line up here). I have been seeing docs at the festival for the past 17 years, and this is the most concentrated and cogent I've seen the category and panel discussions get in relation to not just the stories the filmmakers are trying to tell, but the relationship between those stories and grassroots activism. To say the overall themes of Occupy Wall Street, revolution, reclamation, and income disparity are present at the 2012 festival would be both obvious and an understatement.
Watch for them to see a larger theatrical or cable tv release later this year.