SFF'12 Panel: How Independent Docs are Changing Change

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:

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.

 

SFF'12 Panel: How Independent Docs are Changing Change

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:

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.

 

SFF'12 Panel: How Independent Docs are Changing Change

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:

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.

 

The MLK You Don't See on TV

FAIR finds a nugget in the archives. A column by column by FAIR founder Jeff Cohen and Norman Solomon dispelling any notion, as DOD Chief Counsel Jeh suggested last week, that today's wars are in-line with King's humanitarianism, and illustrating how far we're still off from achieving his dream:

But after passage of civil rights acts in 1964 and 1965, King began challenging the nation's fundamental priorities. He maintained that civil rights laws were empty without "human rights"--including economic rights. For people too poor to eat at a restaurant or afford a decent home, King said, anti-discrimination laws were hollow.

Noting that a majority of Americans below the poverty line were white, King developed a class perspective. He decried the huge income gaps between rich and poor, and called for "radical changes in the structure of our society" to redistribute wealth and power.

[...]

You haven't heard the "Beyond Vietnam" speech on network news retrospectives, but national media heard it loud and clear back in 1967--and loudly denounced it. Life magazine called it "demagogic slander that sounded like a script for Radio Hanoi." The Washington Post patronized that "King has diminished his usefulness to his cause, his country, his people."

In his last months, King was organizing the most militant project of his life: the Poor People's Campaign. He crisscrossed the country to assemble "a multiracial army of the poor" that would descend on Washington--engaging in nonviolent civil disobedience at the Capitol, if need be--until Congress enacted a poor people's bill of rights. Reader's Digest warned of an "insurrection."

King's economic bill of rights called for massive government jobs programs to rebuild America's cities. He saw a crying need to confront a Congress that had demonstrated its "hostility to the poor"--appropriating "military funds with alacrity and generosity," but providing "poverty funds with miserliness."

The column, written in 1995, wraps with a condemnation of a Congress and a mass media complacent toward income inequality and poverty in our country.

16 years after this column, 43 years after King's assasination, it's worth asking ourselves how much closer we are to the vision Reverend King fought for.

 

How the Rich Conduct Class Warfare

First, let me get this out of the way - I have no problems with the rich. I plan on being rich. I'm an American. I believe. We all believe we can get to the top and enjoy the spoils of wealth. We are Americans.

That's never been the issue. And in my lifetime the poor or middle class have never come close to declaring anything other than envy for the rich. But there is a class war going on. It's being conducted by the rich on the middle class in this country.

Again, let's be clear. It's not by all of the rich or even most of the rich. There are great philanthropists among the rich. In fact, over 40 billionaires just pledged to give away half of their money to charity. Bill Gates earned his money, is giving it away and has no interest on declaring war on the middle class.

I'll even give you the classic line - some of my best friends are rich. So, this isn't about some ridiculous stereotypes or populist demagoguery. This is about stone cold facts.

Some of the wealthiest people in this country have been systematically trying to reduce their own taxes and make sure their companies are not regulated by the government. This makes sense. They want to make more money. But in the process, they have bought our politicians, corrupted our system and ultimately given us enormous income inequality.

This income inequality doesn't seem just, but that isn't my main issue. The real problem is the results of that inequality. It leads to speculative bubbles, crashes, recessions and depressions. It leads to the middle class losing their pensions, having stagnant wages for the last thirty years and lacking opportunity to move up the chain. It kills our economy and ultimately it kills the American Dream.

Here are some numbers on the rich versus the middle class that demonstrate what I'm talking about:

 

All of the money went to the top. Do you know that between 1979 to 2007 income for the bottom fifth of the country went up by just 16%, but for the top 1% income it went up a staggering 281%?

The rich got much richer. This is not an accident. People like the Walton family and the Koch brothers have been doing this for a long time. The Waltons don't want to pay estate taxes for understandable reasons because they plan to inherit and pass on billions of dollars. It is cost efficient for them to buy our politicians for a couple of thousand dollars in campaign donations. The Koch brothers hate taxes and regulation of their businesses. If you want to know how they have hijacked our system you should read this brilliant articleby Jane Mayer in The New Yorker.

Meanwhile, you know what happened to the poverty rate - it went skyrocketing up. Now, one in seven Americans lives in poverty. That's 45 million people. Last year, we had the highest increase in poverty since the government started keeping these numbers in 1959.

The poor are growing, the middle class is shrinking and the rich are getting even richer. This is how you build a Third World country. So, the next time you hear about class warfare, understand which direction it's going in.

Some of the wealthiest people in this country pulled the wool over your eyes and picked your pockets. I don't have anything against the rich and I understand their motivation. But the rest of us are crazy to keep letting it happen. At some point, you have to fight back. Not with pitchforks, but at the very least with your votes.

Now that you know the game that's being played, it's incumbent on you to make sure you join the battle. Help us save this country and rebuild our once great middle class.

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