On the 1-year anniversary of Occupy Wall Street, hundreds of protesters converged today on New York City’s financial district, with dozens reportedly arrested by the NYPD. If OWS demonstrators continue to struggle in their fight for economic equality, they must also contend with the way they are represented in the history books and mainstream media that shape public opinion. For SnagFilms’s Election Hub, I’ve posted a short blog post about the competing visions of the movement, from conservative director Stephen Bannon’s anti-OWS doc “Occupy Unmasked” (which opens this Friday) to Kevin Breslin’s more sympathetic view “#whilewewatch,” which positions the group as a social media juggernaut and enlivening people’s movement.
As Breslin has said, “Zuccotti Park was loud, dirty, wet, cold and exhilaratingly alive with passion and energy. Intelligence, imagination, information and raw emotion ruled every second.’ The people in this film are genuinely decent,” added Breslin. “They all are immensely bright. They are kind, tough and loaded with the belief that this is what being an American citizen is about.”
But Breslin’s film is not the definitive Occupy film for the Occupiers. As I’ve argued before, that film doesn’t exist–unless you consider Peter Watkins’ landmark 1971 quasi-doc “Punishement Park.”
I am still awaiting the release of “99% — The Occupy Wall Street Movement,” which bills itself as just that film: “a cohesive and compelling portrait of the movement… [that] takes a step back to look at how and why Occupy Wall Street erupted in the fall/winter of 2011 and how it has deeply affected the discourse in the United States and around the world.”
The documentary received a post-production grant from the Sundance Institute this summer, which suggests it may be unveiled at January’s festival.