The team behind “99% – The Occupy Wall Street Collaborative Film” — Audrey Ewell, Aaron Aites, Lucian Read and Nina Krstic — have between them a very diverse resume, from feature doc producing (“Until the Light Takes Us”) and songwriting, to war photography and film ethnography. Below they discuss the Occupy movement and their goals as filmmakers.
What It’s about: “99% is about power. We peel back the curtain to show the mechanisms and gears that shape our world and then show this era’s response.” — Ewell.
What It’s REALLY About: “Our film captures one of those critical moments is U.S. history where everyday people stepped forward to demand justice for themselves and their fellow citizens from a broken system. Our collaborative method allowed us to express the wide range of experiences that compelled people to come forward – a sense of service, the fear of losing a home, losing a job, living in the shadow tremendous inequality in the country, a long held but deferred vision of a better world. The film is about those realities. It sets out to both capture and explain them. At the same time, the film, by harnessing the vision – figuratively and literally – of so many people is able to encapsulate the Occupy movement as a full blown and singular historical moment. A moment of highs and lows, defeats and exhilarations.” — Read.
“99% explores the confluence of economic, social and cultural conditions that gave the movement such vitality and ubiquity. From affecting the media landscape to showing both the utilitarian beauty and inherent risks of destabilization in a horizontal power structure, Occupy turned a mirror on us all. This film asks its viewers to look critically at not just the movement but at the world around them and the role that they play in it.” — Krstic.
The Biggest Challenge: “Our biggest challenge was keeping up with the rapidly evolving Occupy story. It was extremely unpredictable. Plans were made and changed at a moment’s notice. Checking twitter with one hand while filming with the other hand in a massive crowd was both exciting and challenging.” — Krstic.
What We Want You To Take Away: “I want to people to take away that Occupy was about more than signs or slogans or cops and protesters (though there was plenty of that, of course.) It was about people from all over this country struggling for a decent life, struggling to survive, asking to be heard. That so rarely really happens in this country, so rarely reaches the level of the national consciousness and we hope the film helps Sundance audiences see this individual struggle writ large and captures this moment in our national history.” — Read.
“I needed this film to operate on a few levels for audiences, in order for me to consider it a success. I needed it to make clear to people how we ended up in the mess we were in as a country; I needed it to hit home with affecting stories of real life people; I needed it to get behind the scenes of the movement and to tell the definitive story of the most filmed event on earth; and I needed it to tell that story in a tapestry of voices with 100 people I’d never met. At this point, I think I’ll just be happy if I don’t make too big an ass of myself during audience Q & As. But in all seriousness, my overarching goal is always to reveal something, to challenge expectations, about a facet of modern society or human nature that may otherwise go unchallenged or unexamined. I wanted to turn this national movement around in my fingers and catch all the facets of it, and reflect those back to the audience in a cohesive form, and I think there are a lot of outcomes that I’d be happy with, in turns of audience take-away. But mostly I want this film to bring context to what I think is still a very misunderstood movement and moment in our collective experience as people sharing a planet at this moment in time.” — Ewell.
Inspiration: “Godard’s articulation of class struggle is still relevant today. I admire his willingness to take a stand on political views and to continually test the boundaries of how films can/should be made/organized. In that sense, his work inspired Audrey & I.” — Aites.
Indiewire invited Sundance Film Festival directors to tell us about their films, including what inspired them, the challenges they faced and what they’re doing next. We’ll be publishing their responses leading up to the 2013 festival.
Keep checking HERE every day up to the launch of the festival on January 17 for the latest profiles.