Berkshire International Film Festival 2013: 99% – The Occupy Wall Street Collaborative Film (2013)
The Occupy movement began in September of 2011 as a result of the global financial crisis caused, in part, by subprime mortgages doled out all too generously by Wall Street investment banks. Starting in New York City’s Zuccotti Park, the protest occupations soon spread to over 50 cities nationally and over 95 cities internationally. While the movement was first ignored, then often criticized for a lack of uniform goals or purpose, by the media, it is considered one of the largest social movements of the 21st century, and spawned the popular internet meme-phrase “We are the 99%.”
99%- The Occupy Wall Street Collaborative Film is an aggregation of footage and insight from over 60 journalists and filmmakers across the country, assembled by Brooklyn-based documentarians Audrey Ewell and Aaron Aites (present for a post-film Q&A during the first official screening day of the Berkshire International Film Festival). The film aims to provide the audience with true stories about those affected by the housing crisis, detailing stories of home foreclosures and crumbling job markets in cities like Oakland, CA and Jackson, MI. The most interesting segments of the film occur during its explanation and analysis of the community (or, dare I say, democracy) that formed in Zuccotti Park during their three months of occupation. Interviews with community leaders and OWS participants discuss the grassroots approach to relaying their message of corporate greed and economic inequality, as well as the strategic live broadcasting of information and events (so as to not be spun or altered by mainstream media). 99% secures its accreditation by including extensive interviews with the likes of Naomi Wolf, Rolling Stone’s Matt Taibbi, and a higher-up from the hacktivist group (and OWS spearheaders) Anonymous.
But perhaps the most affecting portion of the film is its raw and vivid depiction of police violence at Occupy demonstrations across the country. By including video evidence and eyewitness testimony, the collaborators build a strong case against the growing police state that is present-day America. This disturbing depiction is further justified by the interviews with concerned retired police officials and war veterans that attended peaceful OWS protest demonstrations that ended in violence. While the film has a very clear agenda, 99% is an excellent and compelling documentary that draws attention to a global movement that may have been hushed but most definitely not silenced.
99%- The Occupy Wall Street Collaborative Film is out now in limited release.
For more information on the Berkshire International Film Festival, visit http://www.biffma.com/.