All posts by Dana

FESTIVAL ANNOUNCEMENT: The Palm Beach International Film Festival!

pbiff 2014 laurelWe are proud to announce that “Parents of the Revolution” will be getting a dose of warmer weather next month. For you Floridians out there the screening will be on Saturday, April 5th, 3:45pm at the Muvico Parisian at CityPlace in West Palm Beach. Tickets will soon be available at the fest’s website. The film’s principal subject, Kirby Desmarais, will be present as well as myself and associate producer, Lisa Duggan for Q&A. Hope to see you there!

Parent Activism Within OWS by Mark Hamilton

Mark and Scarlett HamiltonOn October 6th 2011, I wandered into a packed Zuccotti Park pushing a stroller–– inside my two and a half year-old daughter was, as always, directing affairs.

We only stayed for around forty minutes, listening in on the myriad conversations, trying to understand what was going on and why the global media was obsessed with Occupy Wall Street (OWS).

In those early days, OWS had an exhilarating, infectious energy. People seemed optimistic about the rise of a mass populist movement — the “99%” — and that it could really rock the foundations of Wall Street. Those first forty minutes were enough to get me hooked. We’d return to “Liberty Square” regularly, three times in the following week and started going to daytime marches and rallies. By November we’d found the Parents For Occupy Wall Street group, which we participated in for the next year or so. In time I also joined with the Peoples Puppets of OWS, whose crusade against Wall St. with giant puppets and subversive art continues indefinitely.

My parents were not vocally political. Growing up in Northern Ireland during the troubles, politics were very divisive and mainly along religious lines. It made me very apathetic to all politics as all I’d ever hear about was, “talks about talks” and very little else, bar one side condemning the other for the ever growing body count. Because of that it took me a long time to awaken and become politically aware.

Being the parent of a highly demanding infant is a full time job and it certainly restricted how involved and how much time I could commit to Occupy. Evenings were generally out of the equation, except a few late ones on big event days, which her mother didn’t approve of! Luckily for me, OWS embraced social media and online organizing tools, so even when I was at home I could follow the General Assemblies, read the Twitter feeds and be spoiled for choice when it came to watching actions on live-stream. I yearned to be able to plug in more, so it was nice to find a group of concerned parents who had similar political views and we were able to organize some actions with the safety of our kids at the forefront.

Scarlett ZuccottiIt’s hard to know yet what lessons my daughter will have learned from being around Occupy, but I hope she’ll yearn to seek out the truth. Investing her energy in people, community and protecting our planet against powerful, nefarious forces–– while not always the easiest option–– are values that come with rewards money can’t buy.

I hope that she’s learned to express her self without fear and learned that defiance, not compliance, is at times absolutely necessary. I hope that she’ll want to continue fighting for social justice and those who are not as well off as she. I know she has learned not to judge people on how they look, or what they wear, and to embrace diversity and make friends with anyone. I hope she continues to develop her interest in nature and fight to protect our environment from those who would destroy it. And I hope she’ll continue to be a light of positivity and bring happiness to others throughout her life, like she has within the Occupy community.

Some people are shocked when they hear that you’ve taken your child to protests. It’s up to us who are awake to what’s happening to challenge their belief systems and expose them to reality. I’d wholeheartedly recommend any parents who hope to get involved in activism to do so. Seek out and engage with groups who fight for issues you support. Search and find them online and then find a way of connecting in person. Feel a group out first; go to a rally or event and see if you like it. While it may seem daunting to turn up and try to fit in with people you don’t know, it’s worth the effort. I’ve met and made so many new friends who I would never have encountered, and human connections and friendships are one thing Wall St. can’t destroy.

Spending time with my daughter in what I see as the front line against Capitalism with Occupy, and Occupy related groups in NYC has been a truly rewarding experience and I will defiantly continue to do so as the class war continues.

Mark Hamilton is the bassist and songwriter for the indie rock band Ash.

Nothing Lost By Rob Territo

Last summer I was at a barbeque.

If you’re a vegetarian like me, you know the horror of smelling charred meat and watching the endless stuffing of hotdogs into the mouths of young children. Suddenly, through the smoke of the grill the host approached me and said, “Do you think it’s right to take the innocence away from your children?” I stood there kind of stunned as she melted away back into the smoke, to throw yet another handful of meat onto the fire.

I thought to myself, “Is that what I’m doing when I take my children to a protest?”

POTR_RobChaseBannerWhen I was about my son’s age my father called me to the backyard. When I arrived I saw him fiddling around with the TV antenna, trying to get good reception. I was excited because when he took the TV outside it was usually a big event. But this wasn’t a big sports event, like the Superbowl, or a prize fight. I asked my father what was going on and he said to take a seat because something very important was about to happen.

Soon after I settled into my seat the picture came on and it was the President of the United States, Richard Nixon. When my father sat down next to me I asked, “Why are we watching this?” He said the President did a bad thing and got caught by the people and now had to quit being President. My first reaction was fear. I asked, “If he quits, what’s going to happen to us and the country?” He turned to me and with an uneasy look said, “Don’t worry, we’re going to be all right.” I could tell he was nervous too, because nothing like this had ever happened in our country’s history. But no matter the uncertainty of the future the people had spoken and Richard Nixon was going to resign.

Did I lose something that day? Was my innocence ripped away on that night? My father could have just kept me in the dark with no fear of the future — just childhood bliss. But instead he decided that I should learn that when the people in a democracy speak they are even more powerful than the President of the United States. Something did change in me that night; I gained the understanding of what makes a real democracy. I learned that the people are strong and when something is wrong you must speak out in order for it to be fixed. Sure, change is scary, especially for a child, but the strength that comes from knowing and understanding what is happening is the most powerful thing a parent can give his or her children.

I never responded to the woman’s question that day at the barbecue, but here is my answer: innocence is never lost when something so important and powerful is to be gained.

Rob Territo is a New York City teacher. He lives with his wife and two children in New Jersey.

Film Recommendation: The East

The EastIf you are looking for a film that feeds your soul while being a really terrific entertainment, look no further than “The East.” It’s that rare Hollywood film that grapples with social justice in an honest manner. All of the issues that are inherent in activism and trying to make a better world are brilliantly built into “The East.” The film director and star spent a summer where they joined an anarchist group in search of answers to how to create a better world and, even though they may not have found it, they did find the seeds to express those feelings in a really excellent suspense thriller.

Without saying too much about the film, what “The East” does successfully is create a scenario where there is moral ambiguity in terms of who the protagonists and antagonists really are in the story as well as present a really thoughtful view of the inside of an activist group. Like any good film, documentary or otherwise, that grapples with complex issues, you will no doubt be thinking about “The East” long after you’ve finished watching it.

I’m a total sucker for paranoid thrillers, particularly those from the Seventies (ie. “The Parallax View,” “All The Presidents Men” and “Marathon Man”), so “The East” strikes a personal sweet spot.

Why The ‘E’ Word Is A Good Idea

At a certain point in the editing of “Parents of the Revolution” I considered adding to the film’s beginning the Kubler-Ross Five Stages of Death with the ‘anger’ stage being emphasized. In a big picture kind of way, I’ve always seen what happened in Zuccotti Park as the beginnings of populist anger against our ‘free’ market system and its impending doom.

I think that I chose not to ultimately include mention of these stages because at my core I’m a hopeful person who likes to see the good in people and I’m really praying that maybe something can be done before it’s too late.

I bring this up as we seem to be on the cusp of something larger than just global collapse. The word ‘Extinction’ seems to be bandied about more and more these days by some fairly rational people. Is it possible we have set into motion the destruction of the human race? It would seem so if you read this article (personal admission: this article kicked my butt) or what Al Gore put out in the NYTimes  recently about a new book about the ‘E’ word.

Maybe the ‘E’ word is what’s needed in today’s world to make us all wake up to the reality that we can’t continue trashing the planet in the manner that we’ve grown so blissfully accustomed.

We as human beings get so caught up in our creature comforts that most of us can’t see beyond them and will even go kicking and screaming to maintain them. It’s unfortunate and truly short sighted.

Somehow this makes me think of what happened to my old 4th grade teacher who my family and I still are in contact with. For years she smoked and couldn’t quit. This went on until one day she was informed by her doctor that if she had just one more cigarette, it would pop an irregular blood vessel that had formed in her head and she would die instantly.

She went cold turkey on smoking and is still happily alive today as a result.

So, in a twisted way I’m happy that big ‘E’ word is being mentioned more and more. Maybe, like my former teacher’s doctor, the message will sink in before it’s too late.

My Huffpo Piece About "The Wolf of Wall Street"

I just wrote an article for The Huffington Post about my feelings about “The Wolf of Wall Street” and am reprinting it here as well because a) it’s about the transmission of toxic societal values and b) Wall Street has so much to do with our film. Looking forward to hearing what you think as well.

Here’s the post…

Years from now, after the human race has been mostly wiped off the face of this planet, some surviving anthropologist may look to the film “The Wolf of Wall Street” for clues as to what happened to us.

This future anthropologist will likely have an ‘a-ha’ moment as the demise of western civilization becomes evidently clear from viewing this artifact.

Don’t get me wrong, as a filmmaker and a filmgoer I think Mr. Scorcese’s film is a masterpiece of cinema. The characters are rich (pun intended), the situations spontaneous and entertaining and its three hours running time moves like an MX Missile.

However, let’s be clear what this film really is: a glorification of the worst in us, an advertisement for Dionysian values, a cheerleader for our demise. It’s like watching a snuff film – but with you and I being the ones who are killed.

Harsh, huh? It’s only a movie, right? And the filmmakers and Leo keep telling us that it’s a cautionary tale of gross excess or a reflection of our own chiseled souls.  And they’re right to a point. Certainly, my ambivalence stems from the fact that good art makes us reflect on our own condition, as this film does magnificently when viewed by people of intelligence pokies online and thoughtfulness.

But then I think of the myriad of people who have been poorly educated and brought up by a cynical system that perpetuates the value of dollars over people and I worry about how this film will reverberate in their brains.

These people will not get the subtleties of this comic/horror masterpiece. They won’t get the forlorn conclusion that to live as Jordan Belfort did is to lead to personal and societal doom. No, they will want to be Jordan Belfort. To live as he did and even perhaps to desire his ultimate fate as psychologically that’s what they’ve been told they deserve anyway.

Just like in the scene in the film where Belfort’s company was swamped by inspired, wet-eared, young (mostly) men who had read the Forbes article that damned Belfort, so too will more young people watch this film and be craving to drink from Belfort’s Dionysian well. The ‘Wolf’ will be awoken in these people and the toxic, vampire machine that is Wall Street will be given yet another much needed injection of new, disposable blood to satisfy its greed-addled arm.

A few years ago I remember speaking to a vet from the first gulf war. He told me that when he wasn’t in action, he and the other soldiers would watch war movie marathons:

“It didn’t matter,” he told me, ”whether we were watching a gung-ho John Wayne war film or an anti-war film like “The Deerhunter” or  “Born on the Fourth of July.” We didn’t get the subtle messages, only the rat-a-tat action that would get us pumped.”

The filmmakers behind the remake of “Scarface” were horrified when Al Pacino’s character, Tony Montana started being printed on T-shirts worn by gang members in LA and New York and real life gangsters began emulating the lifestyle. That film was intended as a cautionary tale as was Oliver Stone’s “Wall Street,” but unfortunately, by nature of the needs of cinema to make subject matter as exciting as possible, any moral message in the end is pulverized by the likes of charismatic characters like Gordon Gekko, Tony Montana and now Jordan Belfort.

The moral message at the end of “The Wolf of Wall Street” is flimsy at best. Spoiler alert beware, forget about the fact that Belfort loses his wife, his fortune and goes to jail for a brief stint at a tennis club/ low security prison. No, the film’s final message is in the credits in which we see that this film is based on Jordan Belfort’s sensational book: if you shit on people, break the law and ultimately rape the American Dream – but do it with sufficient panache and sensation – then the likes of a filmmaker like Martin Scorcese might very well be interested in making a movie about your utterly useless, scum-sucking life.

In “The Wolf of Wall Street”, greed is no longer just good. It’s phantasmagoric. So move aside, Gordon Gekko. You and your antiquated movie are no longer needed. Now we have Jordan Belfort for Wall Street’s new recruitment poster.

POTR – RELEASE DATE ANNOUNCED!!

We are so excited to announce that Parents of the Revolution will be released for community screenings starting May 15th, 2014! Online streaming and individual DVD sales of the film will occur at a later date.

Between now and then we’ll be sharing all sorts of special videos, music from the soundtrack, interviews with the film’s subjects and much, more more!

We’ll also be talking about social justice and civil disobedience on our twitter feed on most Tuesdays through Thursdays. So, join us for the conversation and stay tuned for more exciting news from Parents of the Revolution!