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Global Visions – Pursuits of Liberty: Recent Activist Cinema

If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save you. If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you." These words from the Gospel of Thomas were relegated to the obscurity of the apocryphal. Yet through every historical period there have been individuals and groups willing to listen to their conscience and courageous enough to act accordingly: willing to stand up against powerful elites in the hope of creating a better world. As the nation conducts new presidential and congressional elections and as we near the first anniversary of the World Trade Organization drama that rocked Seattle last fall, we present four new documentaries that herald efforts made by ordinary citizens to improve the world around them. The issues raised in these films are issues all civil societies must come to terms with: the effect of trade on the environment; issues of agriculture and deprivation, labor and human rights; and the future—always in jeopardy—of democracy around the world.

November 3 (Friday) 7 pm
November 10 (Friday) 9 pm

The Butterfly

Directed by Doug Wolens
US 2000, 16mm, color, 80 min.

In December 1997, twenty-one-year-old Julia Butterfly Hill climbed into a thousand-year-old redwood tree named Luna in an attempt to save it from logging. Her civil action quickly captured worldwide attention and galvanized an already intense dispute over the fate of northern California’s old-growth forests. For the next two years, Hill lived atop her 180-foot-high platform, enduring life-threatening storms, cold temperatures, and lumber company helicopters amidst a constant barrage of supporters and detractors, journalists and film crews, and the awesome beauty of days and nights in the ancient tree. Filmmaker Doug Wolens captures the action both above the ground and below, including the dissension within Julia’s sponsoring organization, EarthFirst!, and the many sides of the complex debate among loggers, conservationists, local residents, and corporate officials. What emerges most forcefully is the stirring spirit and clear-spoken wisdom of a young woman whose commitment to the dictates of her heart sets an example for us all.

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November 3 (Friday) 9 pm - Director Rick Rowley in Person
November 17 (Friday) 9:30 pm

This Is What Democracy Looks Like

Directed by Rick Rowley and Jill Freidberg
US 2000, video, color, 90 min.

For five days in late November and early December last year, the world sat up and took notice as tens of thousands of people came out in unison to protest the World Trade Organization during its first meeting on U.S. soil. This Is What Democracy Looks Like combines the energy and intensity of footage from the front lines of the protests with interviews that articulate their global and historical significance. Drawing on hundreds of hours of footage shot by dozens of videographers, the film reflects the collaborative efforts of a range of independent media makers. As such, it is not merely a film about the movement but a work made by the movement itself. Independently distributed by an array of individuals and grassroots networks, This Is What Democracy Looks Like aims to be a mobilizing tool in local and global struggles, with all profits going to support the collaborative coverage of future direct actions.

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November 10 (Friday) 7 pm
November 12 (Sunday) 9 pm

Trade Off

Directed by Shaya Mercer
US 2000, 16mm, color, 95 min.
With Mike Dolan, Michael Moore, Jello Biafra

As violent media images of "The Battle in Seattle" captured international headlines last fall, many of the key questions regarding what was at stake went unanswered. Shot entirely on location, Shaya Mercer’s Trade Off introduces us to the organizers and power players on both sides of the barricades and goes a long way toward explaining the politics behind the protest. Eschewing narration, the film lets the images and participants speak for themselves. Moving through rallies, demonstrations, street action, and press conferences, the film features, among many others, satirist Michael Moore, U.S. Senator Paul Wellstone, California State Senator Tom Hayden, Jello Biafra, and the music of the Laura Love Band and Spearhead. Trade Off won the Best Documentary award at its world premiere screening this June at the Seattle Film Festival.

November 17 (Friday) 7 pm
November 18 (Saturday) 3 pm
November 19 (Sunday) 7 pm

Director Helen Garvy in Person

Rebels With a Cause

Directed by Helen Garvy
US 2000, 16mm, color, 110 min.
With Tom Hayden, Cathy Wilkerson, Todd Gitlin

Rebels with a Cause is a documentary on the sixties that focuses on the history, ideas, and legacy of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS). Through an examination of the largest and most influential student organization of that tumultuous decade, the film explores the values and motivations of a generation of young people who sought to make a better world and the issues and individuals who influenced them. Beginning in 1960 with only a handful of students and high ideals, SDS claimed more than 100,000 members and close to 400 chapters across the country at its peak in 1968. Rebels with a Cause captures the spirit of the organization and the decade-long movement that changed the country dramatically. Director Helen Garvy was herself a member of SDS and helped found the Harvard chapter in 1964.

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