AGENTS OF CHANGE
What is left of democracy? Some ostensibly democratic governments are led according to economic interests and obscure lobbies. Some work in secret, hidden from public scrutiny, and often against the interests of those who elected them. Others make geopolitical deals without consulting their own population. True democratic impulses can too rarely be found in supposedly representative institutions. Rather, they spring, increasingly, from wells of insurgency. Ordinary people who become dissidents exemplify what Václav Havel called “the power of the powerless”. Civic engagement, creative resistance and self-sacrifice are emboldened by new means of communication through the Internet, which can amplify individual action into mass movement.
The films in this section show the multiplicity of forms that both resistance and suppression take. Citizenfour takes us to a small hotel room where we become privileged witnesses to a private decision with global repercussions: Edward Snowden becoming a whistleblower. Killswitch shows the Internet as both mobilizing force and battleground for control and freedom. Euromaidan. Rough Cut follows the mass movement in Kiev’s Independence Square, mobilized partly through the internet, in all its vitality. Across the border in Russia, The Term also follows mass protests, with a difference: they are mobilized by a handful of Putin opponents around the contested 2012 elections. Pixadores shows another mobilizing force: activist street art which acts as a bullhorn for those who are otherwise too rarely and too feebly heard. Finally, Iranian presents the valiant, if vain, attempt of one individual to engage Iranian clerics in a dialogue with the outside world.
After three years of street protests and political turmoil in Romania, this selection of documentaries can serve as an opportunity to reflect on our place in the global context and as a springboard for strategic action in the future.