Hollywood held its Oscars a couple of weeks ago. Of interest to many, especially those calling for a pardon (or Nobel Peace Prize) for Edward Snowden, was the documentary CITIZEN FOUR which won the Oscar for Best Documentary. Director Laura Poitras said, “The disclosures that Edward Snowden reveals don’t only expose a threat to our privacy but to our democracy itself,” Snowden released a statement following the Oscars saying, in part, “My hope is that this award will encourage more people to see the film and be inspired by its message that ordinary citizens, working together, can change the world.”
IPR readers are encouraged to share films that inspired or supported their interest and/or activism in independent politics in the comments below.
The Sundance Film Festival which concluded last month also screened several documentaries that may be of general interest to IPR readers. Among them:
HOW TO CHANGE THE WORLD – a documentary about the founding of Green Peace which may be of special interest to those supporting or interested in the Green Party. “Before it was the world’s largest activist organization, Greenpeace was the love child of an eclectic group of Vancouver neighbors (journalists, scientists, and hippies).”
BEST OF ENEMIES – a documentary about the ten “debates” held between Gore Vidal and William F. Buckley during ABC’s “unconventional” coverage of the 1968 Presidential nominating conventions in Miami and Chicago. While dealing mostly with major party issues, the historical context and extreme positions of both Gore and Buckley may be of interest to those in “third” parties today. “Viewers were riveted. ABC News’ ratings skyrocketed. And a new era in public discourse was born.”
CHUCK NORRIS VS COMMUNISM – this documentary shows how underground tape duplicators poked a hole in the “Iron Curtain” during the 1980s by bringing free market ideas, in the form of dubbed VHS copies of western films, especially Chuck Norris’s, to help foment the Romanian revolution.
THE VISIT – a documentary about exopolitics and the United Nation’s (real) preparations for contact with extraterrestrial visitors. Interviewees include Dr. Douglas Vakoch, “Director of Interstellar Message Composition.”
Two other documentaries worked to explicate the fringes of religious freedom, or lack thereof, and the influence of these organizations on government policy, both local and federal.
PROPHET’S PREY – a very disturbing film that emotionally explicates the issues of age-of-sexual-consent laws, religious freedom, government’s response to alleged cults, and the tax status of (Self-proclaimed) religious groups. “Gripping first-person accounts . . . paint a harrowing portrait where women are property, and men are forced to comply with the oppressive guidelines or face expulsion from their own families.”
GOING CLEAR – similar to Prophet’s Prey this film examines the relationships between the IRS, child-protective services, various other federal, state, and local government agencies and an organization which has successfully litigated for and been granted recognition as a religion by the IRS.
Two other films, while not documentaries, depicted historical events of note for those interested in the role of authority in society.
THE STANFORD PRISON EXPERIMENT – also documented in the book The Lucifer Effect, this film uses transcripts of the actual events of this 1971 Stanford University experiment. Of interest to any student of power and its corrupting influences, both among the rulers and their subjects (and in this case the experimenters as well), this film shows how “the guards become power-hungry and sadistic, while the prisoners, subject to degradation, strategize as underdogs.” Parallels are drawn to Abu Ghraib prison and other current government abuses
EXPERIMENTER – ten years prior to the events depicted in THE STANFORD PRISON EXPERIMENT, Yale University was the site of the classic “obedience experiments” where random subjects were instructed to administer what appeared to be fatal electrical shocks to a subject (actually a cohort actor) in another room. Part of the intent of this study was to determine how “following orders” played out in Nazi Germany. In fact, Adolf Eichmann’s trial was occurring in Israel at the same time the results of this study were published and publicized.
IPR readers are encouraged to share links to films (or other media) which they have found of interest or value in their political activism and/or which they believe might be of interest for similar reasons to other IPR readers.
(Note: Joseph Buchman, PhD in addition serving as a contributing editor to IPR since 2012, for the past 10 years has also served as a local volunteer for the Sundance Film Festival. He has no financial interest in any of the above films, nor in the festival itself.)
Links to trailers or interviews with the filmmakers for each of the above are provided below: