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.

 

Egyptian Elections: Five reasons to stick with the process as uncertainty follows recent vote

Political parties with clear Islamic identities appear to be gaining a majority in preliminary results from Egypt’s first round of parliamentary elections: the Muslim Brotherhood backed Freedom and Justice Party has around 40% of the vote and a further 25% went to the more extreme Salafi, An-Nour party. While the Brotherhood and the FJP have pledged to respect democratic principles and the rights of other Egyptians, the Salafis are explicitly hostile to the rights of women and minorities and to freedom of expression.

These parties believe that the law of God is superior to that of men and that they are in unique possession of the authoritative interpretation of the divine will. Their apparent strength is bad news for human rights in Egypt, but it should focus the minds of those who wish to see Egypt’s democratic transition move forward.

Here are five reasons not to give up on Egypt’s democratic transition at the first hurdle:

 

There's more...

Sharia = apartheid!

SHARIA = APARTHEID!

The news: Volume 14, Issues 13-25 - Independent Communications Network Ltd., 2000 - Page 6
Sharia is what apartheid was in South Africa. Even if constitutional, it is unjust! If we do not dismantle it like apartheid, it will dismantle Nigeria.
http://books.google.com/books?&id=gGQuAQAAIAAJ&q=%22sharia+is+what+apartheid+was+in+south+africa%22

National Writers Syndicate - Islamic Apartheid Muslims Only
Islamic Apartheid in Mecca and Medina is a legal, political, and religious segregation enforced by the Shariah compliant country of Saudi Arabia, ...
http://nationalwriterssyndicate.com/content/view/2294/40/

Surrender! - HUMAN EVENTS
Jul 8, 2008 – This will mean English law must become subordinate to Sharia law. This is Dhimmitude, an Islamic system of religious apartheid begun in the 7th century that...
http://www.humanevents.com/article.php?id=27394

Shilling for Shariah | FrontPageMagazine
Aug 30, 2011
... So Shariah is based upon a religious ideology that embraces gender apartheid, religious apartheid, cruel punishment and the denial of freedoms of speech, thought, and conscience. As such it cannot be compatible with western pluralistic democratic societies.
http://frontpagemag.com/2011/08/30/shilling-for-shariah/

Sharia would create legal apartheid in Britain, says David Cameron
Feb 26, 2008 - Islamic law for Muslims would create legal apartheid in Britain, David Cameron said today.
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/faith/article3438846.ece

Shariah Islamic Law: Legal Apartheid
Sep 1, 2009 - Shariah Islamic Law: Legal Apartheid.
http://www.actforamerica.org/index.php/learn/email-archives/1544-shariah-islamic-law-legal-apartheid

Islamic Gender & Religious Apartheid
http://www.phyllis-chesler.com/topics/1/islamic-gender-religious-apartheid

Racism, Cultural ... - Maryam Namazie - Human Rights Activist
She is spokesperson for the One Law for All Campaign against Sharia Law in ... women and girls continue to face apartheid and Islamic laws and customs.
http://www.maryamnamazie.com/articles/racism_cultural_rel.html

Introduction: Tenets of Shariah Law
Shariah Law is a military political doctrine written 1,200 years ago by Islamic authorities. The believers of Shariah Law have created a movement like Apartheid in which a minority oppresses a majority.
The goal of authoritative Shariah Law is to establish a one-world militant political Islam through Jihad. There are three forms of Jihad: Violent, Cultural, and Financial.
http://www.stopshariahnow.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=328&Itemid=149

The multiculturalism backlash: European discourses, policies and practices - Page 11 - Steven Vertovec, Susanne Wessendorf - Taylor & Francis, 2010 - 210 pages
... that the ultimate outcome of multiculturalism, if unchecked, could be the recognition of Sharia law in Britain. ... quite literally, a legal apartheid to entrench what is the cultural apartheid in too many parts of our country.
http://books.google.com/books?id=wUaHVimJkT0C&pg=PA11

Islamic Finance or Sharia-compliant Finance - Q Society
Understand what Islamic finance really is and ignore the marketing lies. - Do not endorse the introduction of sharia law and apartheid in Australia,..
http://www.qsociety.org.au/qonshariafinance.pdf

Dutch VVD Bolkestein warns of Ethnic apartheid | Eux Online
He fears that there are areas in Holland where the Islamic Sharia law is being practiced.
http://www.euxonline.com/dutch-vvd-bolkestein-warns-of-ethnic-apartheid

LGF Pages - Sharia would create legal apartheid in Britain
Feb 26, 2008 – The reality is that the introduction of Sharia law for Muslims is actually the logical endpoint of the now discredited doctrine of ...
http://littlegreenfootballs.com/page/19514_Sharia_would_create_legal_apar

Civil Rights | American Public Policy Alliance
These groups understand what is at stake: Shariah doctrine in America is the 21st century equivalent to Jim Crow segregation laws and apartheid laws.
http://publicpolicyalliance.org/?page_id=195

Taliban
A Pashtoon city, Kandahar has accepted the Taliban’s strict version of sharia ... increasing dogmatism and ‘gender apartheid’ by the denial of basic human rights ...
http://www.womenaid.org/humanrights/shadows/taliban.htm

The United Nations Should Not Recognize an Apartheid, Judenrein, Islamic Palestine
by A. M. Dershowitz
September 21, 2011 at 11:30 am
Sep 21, 2011 – It wants Palestine to be a Muslim state governed by Sharia Law... The draft constitution for the new state of Palestine declares that “Islam is the official religion in Palestine.” It also states that Sharia Law will be “the major source of legislation.” It is ironic that the same Palestinian leadership which supports these concepts for Palestine refuses to acknowledge that Israel is the nation state of the Jewish people. Israel, in contrast to the proposed Palestinian state, does not have an official state religion. Although it is a Jewish state, that description is not a religious one but rather a national one. It accords equal rights to Islam, Christianity and all other religions, as well as to atheists and agnostics. Indeed, a very high proportion of Israelis describe themselves as secular...
To summarize, the new Palestinian state will be a genuine apartheid state. It will practice religious and ethnic discrimination, it will have one official religion and it will base its laws on the precepts of one religion..
http://www.hudson-ny.org/2442/united-nations-palestine

Ban Koran-burning?
If Islam becomes a protected faith, free expression will be no more
The Washington Times
Thursday, April 7, 2011
... Shariah law - the legal basis of most Islamic states - is a form of religious apartheid, systematically classifying Christians and Jews as third-class citizens. Christophobia and anti-Semitism are rampant in the Muslim world.
http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2011/apr/7/ban-koran-burning

Fears and Smears
National Review Online - ‎Oct 22, 2011‎
Moreover, they believe this can be done mostly without violence, through a sedulous campaign of voluntary apartheid (integrating with but not assimilating into the West) and the infiltration of sharia principles into our law and our institutions.
http://www.nationalreview.com/articles/280997/fears-and-smears-andrew-c-mccarthy

New Republic - Sep 29, 2011
Wierdly, the progressives talk all the time about class, apartheid (in Israel where it doesn't exist) but somehow doesn't see us women as a class and is loathe to speak out about the mistreatment of half the people on the planet.
http://www.tnr.com/article/world/95539/saudi-arabia-women-voting-human-rights

Islamophobia is Not an Irrational Fear, Nor is it the Fear of Islam.
AINA (press release) - [Oct. 24, 2011]
Moreover, they believe this can be done mostly without violence, through a sedulous campaign of voluntary apartheid (integrating with but not assimilating into the West) and the infiltration of sharia principles into our law and our institutions.
http://www.aina.org/news/20111024103759.htm

Sharia: Obama-encouraged Libyan transitional council approves polygamy,...
Daily Caller - Neil Munro - ‎[Oct. 24, 2011]
... Abdul-Jalil's announced support for Islamic law could have meant anything between a symbolic nod to fundamentalist rebel groups and a promise for Saudi-style theocracy — complete with apartheid-style treatment of Muslim women and Christians, Jews and other non-Muslims. His announcement ending the Gadhafi-era ban on polygamy suggests that he and his allies intend to implement much of Sharia.
http://dailycaller.com/2011/10/24/sharia-obama-encouraged-libyan-transitional-council-approves-polygamy-bans-banking-interest/

StopShariaNow

What 21st Century Democracy Looks Like

Those who say they don’t know what the Occupy Wall Street protestors want fail to understand the nature of this quintessential 21st century movement.  It is true that they have no policy manifesto.  They have not yet released a list of shared demands, although they are working toward doing so.  But when you listen to the participants tell their stories, when you read their signs and hear their songs, their shared desires for our nation clearly emerge.

Their most fervent demand, not surprisingly, is for honest work that pays a decent, living wage, not only for themselves, but for their 14 million fellow unemployed Americans. But taken together, there is much more.

They seek accountability, including fair rules, oversight, and prosecution where appropriate of the corporations and individuals who wrecked our economy—often through fraud—then continued to pay themselves astronomical bonuses, even as they received an expensive rescue from American taxpayers.They demand a fairer tax structure in which the wealthiest companies, millionaires, and billionaires (the 1%) contribute their fair share to the nation that is giving them so much.

They want a political system in which every American’s voice and vote are equal, and in which large sums of money are not allowed to corrupt the democratic process. They reject the Supreme Court-made fiction that a corporation’s money is the same as a citizen’s voice under our First Amendment, and they want to explore amending the constitution to restore it’s real meaning in this regard.

They want to make college affordable to everyone with the ability and desire to attend, without the crushing burden of student loan debt that cripples graduates’ progress and deters many gifted students from attending at all.

They want recognition that it was lending industry misconduct, lax rules and enforcement, and unprecedented unemployment rates that caused the mortgage meltdown. And they see the basic truth that halting foreclosures, restoring devastated neighborhoods, and reducing mortgage payments to fair, realistic levels is in everyone’s interest—including lenders.

They want a rapid end to the costly wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, combined with care and employment for the troops coming home. And they seek to put the goal of deficit reduction in the proper context. Like most Americans, they not only see job creation as more urgent to our national health and prosperity, but they also see putting Americans back to work, combined with fair tax reform and a military wind-down, as the most effective path to growing our economy and closing our deficit.

Clearly not every Occupy Wall Street protester is walking around with this fully-formed list of demands in her or his head.But this is not that kind of movement. Just as the demonstrators famously rely on each other’s voices for amplification, their best ideas and demands are crowd sourced, a rough-and-tumble vetting process that befits a 21st century democracy.

Nor is it surprising that different participants in the movement will differ in their precise policy prescriptions. Members of the 1960s civil rights movement—including Martin Luther King, Jr. and now congressman John Lewis—often bitterly disagreed about what the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and other laws should include.

And Dr. King’s subsequent call for an end to the war in Vietnam was not initially shared by all members of that movement.There is an important, vibrant difference, it must be remembered, between a movement and a political action committee.

Occupy Wall Street’s organizers are now engaged in a deliberative, participatory process designed to identify more specific common demands. This is an important step for a movement that is growing in maturity as quickly as it is growing in size and diversity. But as that process moves forward, one need only visit Zuccotti Park and the many other dynamic sites of this movement around the country to understand what this movement wants.

Heeding the Voice of the 99 Percent

When a group of young people camped out in Zuccotti Park near Wall Street in mid-September to express their disappointment toward the way corporations have mishandled the economy, it barely made the local newspapers’ front pages. Four weeks later, and with hundreds of thousands of people joining the movement, Occupy Wall Street has captured the attention of national and international media, and it has provided a golden opportunity for lawmakers, intellectuals, unions, and President Obama to channel the participants’ efforts into their agenda.

Inspired by the Arab Spring and the indignados from Madrid, Occupy Wall Street seeks to “restore democracy in America” by using one of the very tenets of our First Amendment: the right to peaceably assemble. NYPD and protesters, however, have clashed a number of times as newscasts and photographs show law enforcement officers making use of batons and pepper spray.

Undeterred, people are joining the protests in droves. Indeed, Occupy Wall Street has spun off other protests across the nation (from Boston to Washington, DC, to Memphis, among others), and it has served as an inspiration to many who also feel worn out by corporate greed and government inefficacy.

Not only do Occupy Wall Street protests take place in public spaces, but also on social media platforms: “We are the 99 Percent” is a Tumblr blog where people post notes and pictures depicting their economic hardship. Likewise, Jennifer Preston from The New York Times’ blog Media Decoder offers a by-the-numbers analysis of social media’s impact on the protests:

The online conversation about Occupy Wall Street grew steadily on social media platforms in recent weeks and increased among users abroad in the last week as the global demonstrations approached. According to Trendrr, a social media analysis company, the number of posts about Occupy Wall Street on Twitter outside the United States grew to more than 25 percent of total posts on Friday, up from 15 percent during the same period the week before.

One may think that equal opportunity for all is a fair claim, but political deadlock continues to push the country to the brink of hopelessness and despair. To make matters worse, the jobs bill proposed by President Obama stalled in Congress after a Republican filibuster, denying the chance for millions of unemployed Americans to regain economic mobility and make ends meet.

As some political experts have pointed out, Occupy Wall Street is not just about corporate malfeasance; it’s also about lack of adequate political representation in Capitol HillNinety-nine percent of the population is raising their voice in order to move our country forward with economic opportunities, education for everybody, and universal health care. Are Congress and the Obama administration listening?

See also:

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