From May 12-May 15th, protesters throughout Spain marked the first anniversary of the 15M movement by re-taking the streets and squares of over 80 cities. The 15M movement inspired people all over the world to occupy their local squares, to self-organize general assemblies and to build networks of solidarity in the face of severe economic policy. This short documentary documents the 15M anniversary protests in Barcelona.
The year 2011 has breathed new life into horizontal models of democratic decision-making. With the rise of the 15 May movement and the occupy movement horizontal decision-making became one of the key political structures for organising responses to the current global economic crisis. While this decision-making process has arguably never been as widely practiced as it is today, it has also never seemed as difficult and complicated as it does today. At its height there were 5,000 people at the general assemblies in Placa Catalunya in Barcelona and even more in Madrid. It is no longer just activists trying to use and teach each other these decision-making processes but it is hundreds or thousands of people who have a far greater disparity in terms of backgrounds, starting assumptions, aims and discursive styles. This is incredibly good news, but it is not easy.
Produced By Marianne Maeckelbergh and Brandon Jourdan
Although Hosni Mubarak was forced to step down in February 2011, the uprisings in Egypt show little sign of retreat. While the uniting rallying cry may have been against dictatorship, the struggle in Egypt that took headlines across the world in early 2011 reflected deeper social, political, and economic problems.
The key demands of the revolution have still not been met. The continuation of military rule and the promise of more neoliberal economic policies lead many to believe it will be a long battle. Protestors in Egypt are hopeful, however, as people all over the world revolt against an economic system that benefits the few at the expense of the many.
Cairo, Egypt, December, 2011-Cairo is a city engulfed in violent anticipation. Activists speak with pride about what they are accomplishing as they enter into their 11th month of struggle. And rightfully so. They “shed their fear” and came together to realise that despite continuous torture, repression, and military dictatorship, they are stronger than the authoritarian state. It’s a strangely powerful feeling that hangs in the air, that permeates conversations, that captures the imagination. The bravery, passion and camaraderie of the people I have met here in Cairo cannot be captured in words. It is a beauty that will inspire me for years to come. Nothing is certain, everything is frighteningly unpredictable, and yet, there is hope. Even those most critical of the current elections, those least satisfied with the authoritarian course the government is taking, have hope that things will get better. Why? Because they have seen, with their own eyes, the power of an enraged people fighting for dignity and a chance at social justice.
Barcelona, Spain, November 2011-The streets of Barcelona appear deceptively calm at first sight. Fashionable people stroll the streets, shopping bags in hand, while others stop to drink a glass of wine at a sidewalk cafe. These luxurious images project a sense of prosperity onto the streets of Barcelona, but underneath the surface, a struggle rages. The 15 May Movement that captured the global imaginary just six months ago and encouraged people all across the world to occupy public space and hold massive democratic assemblies is no longer limited to the central square. Now, they are everywhere.
Across the city less complacent images abound. Everywhere there are posters and banners that declare: “Democracy is a farce”; “Democracy is Hypocrisy”; “No One Represents Us”; “Active Abstention”; “All Power to the People: Don’t Vote!”; “Democracy is a Grand Circus”; and “Our Elections: Actions”. Two growing trends are visible here in Barcelona that certainly resonate elsewhere. First, people seem to take for granted the idea that voting and electoral politics actually bears little relationship to democracy. Second, there is an evolution in the tactic of occupation – expanding from public squares to buildings, hospitals and universities.
Produced By Brandon Jourdan and Marianne Maeckelbergh
Greece is in the midst of a social rebellion with people at many different levels of society involved in strikes, occupations, riots, workplace slowdowns, self-reduction campaigns, and other forms of economic sabotage. Greece has become ground zero of the Eurozone’s fiscal crisis. The austerity measures promoted by the IMF/EU/ECB, otherwise known as the troika, are at the core of the social crisis in Greece. This short documentary looks at the crisis in Greece and social reactions to structural adjustment measures in October 2011.
By Brandon Jourdan
Athens, Greece, October 2011-In Athens, Greece, there are all the elements of a low-intensity conflict zone. Greece has become ground zero of the Eurozone’s fiscal crisis. The latest strikes are seen by many to be historic in a country with a rich tradition of protests.
As Greek citizens are bracing for the upcoming 48-hour general strike on October 19th and 20th called for by the ADEDY and GSEE, the largest umbrella organizations of public and private unions, civil servants continue occupying several government buildings, including one housing the finance ministry office. Food and fuel supplies may also be affected in the next few days as a strike by customs officials is to continue through Thursday and gas stations will be shut on Wednesday.