A peaceful protest in the name of Democracy turns ugly
Stephen Pletko | London, Ontario, Canada | 12/22/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
In order to understand this frightening and powerful documentary, you have to understand the meaning of two terms:
(1) Democracy: government in which the common people hold the ruling power either directly or more usually, through elected (by a majority) representatives; the principle of equality of rights, opportunity, and treatment.
(2) World Trade Organization (WTO): from the film itself, it "is the latest in a series of transnational bodies and agreements to regulate the global economy. It can use sanctions and fines to override the labor, safety, and environmental standards of individual nations."
What is this film about? In Nov. 1999, the WTO was scheduled to hold its last meeting of the millennium at the convention center (behind closed doors) in downtown Seattle, Washington. Activists (from all over the world) prepared to blockade the streets to prevent the meeting from taking place since they perceive the actions of the WTO to be unfair favoring corporate greed over the working guy/gal. Over thirty thousand protesters converged on downtown Seattle.
The viewer is told that "by the end of the week, demonstrations were being held around the world in solidarity with the protests in Seattle."
The viewer is presented with powerful images of the protest "that was shot by over one hundred media activists." Also there is printed information that appears (for example, the definition of WTO above) and footage of protesters and protest leaders saying what's on their mind. Parts of this documentary are narrated. (Susan Sarandon is one of the narrators.)
Besides learning a lot, I felt I was actually at the protest. Thank goodness I was not physically there since the police force monitoring this event started getting brutal with the protesters. (Many were arrested and beaten by police.)
The only problem I had is that for the printed material that appeared, abbreviations that I was unfamiliar with were used for the names of various labor and other organizations. It would have been helpful and more instructive to me if the full names were used instead.
Finally the DVD (the one released in 2005) is perfect in picture and sound quality. However, I did notice that after the film finishes, the program does not revert back to the main menu. There are several interesting extras including video excerpts from the WTO 2003 protests in Cancun, Mexico.
In conclusion, this is a powerful film showing actual footage of how a relatively small group of protesters tried to take back the rightful democratic power that the political and corporate elite of the world is determined to take from the little people.
(2000; 70 min; full screen)
A very concise title for a brilliant documentary!
Spartacus | Lyndhurst, New Jersey | 06/02/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I love the title, even for someone who does not believe democracy can exist. It could be used in two ways: (1) This is what democracy looks like; police brutality and authority's ruthlessness. One sentence from one of the interviewees leapt off the screen for me, which really summed up the living conditions in the US (and elsewhere). "You are all slaves, go back to your ... (couldn't really hear it but i took it as cages, as it made sense)". As long as people do not interfere with policymaking, or basically the decisions that outline their whole lives, they are considered no threat and thus "free", but voice your opinion, and the true nature of your existence vis-a-vis the state will be revealed, "you are all slaves" and have no right meddling with your own affairs. Quite ironic. The mother of all hypocrisies. (2) This is what democracy looks like, when people take it to the streets and get their voices heard across the great divide. Spectacular! The events in Seattle, and those that happen elsewhere on Earth are considered "anti-globalization" protests, but really, they are the epitome of globalization, for what we have today is a perverse version of true globalization (Check Chomsky's writings for that). By the way, I have no idea why Chomsky is included as a contributor for this documentary, not once does he appear. As far as I know, he was never even present at the protests. I thought maybe he might have something to say retrospectically about the Seattle protests, but nothing. I don't even think I saw his name in the credits. So it's a bit misleading to include his name. For a more explicit documentary about the Seattle protests, check "Breaking the Spell". It can be found on [...] to download as a torrent file."
Documentary at its Best
Patricia Lee Cunningham | 02/07/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This was a great film on the events that led to the protests at the WTO. I thought it did a great job of demonstrating the fragile nature of our presumed right to free speech and freedom of assembly. Great for classroom use!!!"
Powerful journey through the why and how of resistance to co
R. W. Malan | Gauteng, South Africa | 01/12/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Those who do not understand or are skeptical of the motivation behind the WTO protests should perhaps watch the interviews first.
The interview on this CD with Naom Chomsky gives an excellent overview of how these organizations like the WTO are used to fulfill a very destructive agenda of some of the elite super rich. He describes how this was foreseen by many.
The interview with Vandana Shiva puts it in more practical immediate local terms. Her numerous books document in detail how this happens in many fields for those who are skeptical.
Those who remain unconvinced should perhaps read insider accounts like John Perkins' 'Confessions of an economic hitman' or 'A game as old as empire'
Once one understands the drivers behind the WTO protests like at Seattle in 1999 one can better appreciate the sense of overwhelming odds against which the protesters were struggling and their lessons of unity that enabled the creation of a global movement that for the first time can start taking a meaningful stand against the process of destruction.
I heartily recommend this video to all - as none of us can afford to ignore the destruction of nature and society indefinitely and this video gives both accurate insights and meaningful direction. "
This is What Democracy SHOULD Look Like.
S. J. Boatwright | New York | 07/10/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"With the close of the 60's and 70's the day of mass protest and public interest in politics and economics have certainly declined. This work showed the actions of some who are trying to keep democracy alive where it was born...in the streets. Unlike some other Big Noise Productions that jump right into the action, you receive a good amount of background information surrounding the cause for the protest. Even someone fresh to the globalization debate would have no trouble understanding the particular outlook the film is attempting to create. The Seattle police departments reaction to the protesters is what American philosopher and journalist Walter Lippman would call "Manufacture of consent." Years later it would be decided that the police department's actions were unconstitutional but at the time you see a "democracy" act in the most questionable of ways. Creating democracy free zones where holding signs or even expressing an opinion of the WTO would be met with arrest or you being escorted away. A citywide ban on gas masks would be enacted. You will also see the media spin coverage of the whole event as local news channel attempt to exploit and exaggerate the few activist that damaged property. It was a very good look at the chaos and the resulting success of the activist in the end when 3rd world leaders gave thanks to the protesters and said their actions emboldened them to stand against the WTO."