Two years before the Occupy movement sprang forth in New York, a small group of land-rights activists occupied a piece of disused land in west London to create an “alternative model of moneyless, sustainable living” which they labelled, the Eco-Village. Echoing the dynamics of hippy communes in the United States decades earlier, Grasp the Nettle follows the often bewildering and even amusing actions of this group through many moments of idyllic beauty, as they use local trees and recycled rubbish to build small homes, go dumpster diving, build a manually operated shower and compost toilet, create a local seed bank, and help distribute dumpstered sandwiches to the city’s homeless. But the Eco-Village quickly becomes something other than just an idealistic experiment in political protest. It begins to attract vulnerable people who already live on the margins of society and need help: the homeless, the unemployed, alcoholics, the mentally ill. Some of them are invited to stay, but others cause a ruckus and harm the group. Tensions spark as the community grapples to deal with the increasing chaos while trying to stave off the fast-approaching prospect of eviction, through the ideologies of withdrawal, dropping out, freemanism and spirtuality. Grasp the Nettle is hence a valuable reflection of the efficacy of this type of Wandervogel-style activism, where lack of goals and support infrastructure, a diverse array of internal conflicts and horizontal hostility can be the ultimate undoing of idealistic and much-needed political resistance movements.
The Kill Team profiles four young American men, who referred to themselves as the “Kill Team,” that carried out a string of war crimes in 2010, during the United States’ invasion of Afghanistan, systematically murdering Afghan citizens. The film focuses on Private Adam Winfield who attempted, with the help of his father, to alert the military to the murders his platoon was committing. His pleas went unheeded. Faced with threats to his life from superior officers and other members of the military, Winfield makes a split-second decision that changes his life forever. The Kill Team follows Winfield and his family through the wartime events and legal proceedings that follow, interspersed with interviews of the other soldiers involved, and video footage from Afghanistan, revealing first-hand revelations of a war culture rooted in hatred, social pressure, and sociopathy.
During the summer of 2013, a new area of occupied Sápmi (the northern parts of Fennoscandia in Europe) were under attack from the mining industry. If it were not for groups of brave resisters, the test blasting outside Jokkmokk in Lapland, Sweden, would have gone by without incident. The local Sámi people would have once again been exploited, and future generations poisoned without even a debate. But this time, something happened. The Gállok Rebellion tells the story of the resisters in Gállok, and shines a light on views which are not often televised. The film collates the efforts of many groups working together and serves as a call to action, to continue to protect the natural world which is under siege.
Obey is a video essay based on the book “Death of the Liberal Class” by author and journalist Chris Hedges. The film charts the rise of corporatocracy and examines the trending possible futures of obedience in a world of unfettered capitalism, globalisation, staggering inequality and environmental crisis — posing the question, do we resist or obey?
Esc & Ctrl is an online series of short documentary films where journalist and filmmaker Jon Ronson explores some aspects of screen culture and the Internet. By exemplifying the concepts of control of information and the screen culture’s reactions to publishing, censorship, viral videos, media attention and manipulation; a small set of stories weave together to pose bigger questions around democracy and open communication in the age of the computers and a corporately mediated virtual world.
When the government of Indonesia was overthrown by the military in 1965, the gangsters Anwar Congo and Adi Zulkadry were promoted from selling black market movie theatre tickets to leading the most powerful death squad in North Sumatra. In The Act of Killing Anwar and his cohorts recount and gruesomely re-enact their experiences and some of their killings for the cameras, making horrific scenes depicting their memories and feelings about the killings. But as they begin to dramatise Anwar’s own nightmares, the scenes begin to take over as artforms, leading to confrontations of memories of historical reality. Can the horrific imagination succumb to moral catastrophe in this case? And if sociopaths are not reachable people anymore, the question becomes what we must do to stop them.
Over half a century, Rupert Murdoch’s rapacious business audacity has built one of the world’s most powerful and ubiquitous media empires. But with revelations of bribery, blackmail, collusion with police and government, wiretapping and other invasions on privacy, the empire seems to be showing cracks. The scandal has prompted criminal investigations on both sides of the Atlantic and also broken open the insular world of the Murdoch family, its news executives, and the vast political elite who court their favour. Murdoch’s Scandal tells the story of the battle over the future of News Corporation and the challenging of the extensive media empire…
With the United Nations laying out a deadline for 2013 on claims to the Arctic seabed to be exploited for oil, minerals and gas; countries such as Canada, the United States, Russia, Norway and Greenland are all attempting to stake a claim. As the beginning battle for territory intensifies, the rapid disappearance of the Polar ice caps opens up potential shipping routes, which further fuels the blood lust by those in power to exploit the region. The Battle For The Arctic heads to the Far North to see first-hand who and what is threatened, and exactly what is at stake with these final grabs for energy, territory, and power.
For the past 40 years, the war on drugs has resulted in more than 45 million arrests, one trillion dollars in government spending, and the arrival of the United States as the world’s largest jailer with almost 2.3 million individuals incarcerated. Yet for all that, drugs are cheaper, purer, and more available than ever. Filmed across the country, The House I Live In provides the experience firsthand of those on the front lines—from the dealer to the grieving mother, the narcotics officer to the senator, the inmate to the federal judge—and offers a penetrating look at the profound human rights implications of the so-called war on drugs.
Based on interviews conducted with hundreds of young women, Flirting With Danger examines how the wider culture’s frequently contradictory messages about pleasure, danger, agency, and victimisation enter into women’s most intimate relationships. The result is a candid and nuanced look at how women are forced to grapple with deeply ambivalent cultural attitudes about sexuality and relationships. These interviews are essential viewing for tackling the problematic issues surrounding consent, coercion and sexual violence throughout the culture.
In 2010, the United States announced the construction of the first new nuclear power plant in more than 30 years. But a year later in Japan, a 9.0 magnitude earthquake hit, preceding a cataclysmic meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi Power Plant bringing the reality of nuclear power back into public consciousness across the globe. For some. Both political parties of the United States ignored this and continued a pro-nuclear agenda, while others, forgetting more of the past, didn’t realise the history of home. The Atomic States of America serves to break this forgetting by travelling from the gates of Three Mile Island, to the cooling ponds of Braidwood to document just some of what has happened and is happening with nuclear power in the United States today. By speaking with communities throughout the country, this film documents arrays of stories of polluted drinking water, government collusion with industry, cover-ups, cancer epidemics and other suppressed stories. Begun more than a year before the disaster in Japan, this film gains a unique before and after perspective, seeking to inspire an honest remembering about just what this culture has done and continues to do for power at the expense of the world.
With a lens of torturous mechanistic science, as well as the commercial perspective from farmers and commodity bee-keepers alike, More Than Honey is a film about the insanity of industrial agriculture and the consequential collapse of honeybee populations throughout the world. By looking through some of the industrial operations in California, Switzerland, China and Australia, More Than Honey is a visual exploration of colony collapse, drawing attention to the many symbiotic relationships that go unrecognised and uncared for by industrial operations and commercial food practices. If bees are so important to the health of so many other species of animals and plants and foods, how can we stand by and allow them to be killed?
Just as mobile phones and wireless capability dramatically changed the way technology interacts with modern society, drones—or ‘Unmanned Aerial Vehicles’—are set to become the next major influence in technocratic life, directly impacting and seriously expanding the already extensive capabilities of surveillance. Rise Of The Machines takes a look at already developed drone technology and how governments, military and even civilians are rushing to adopt the gadgets which can be purchased off the shelf for just a few hundred dollars and controlled by already existing smart phones. So what will a world of drones look like? And what of the many, serious, unexplored implications on how society will function in a world of drones?
The Power Principle is a series of films examining the history of the United States and the building of its empire with particular emphasis on the last seventy years of United States foreign policy. The methods that make empire possible are also examined—the politics of fear, the rise of public relations, the ‘Mafia Principle’ and the reoccurring use of fabled enemies, contrasting the Soviet Union and the Cold War alongside the parallels of today with the “War On Terror”. Not only does The Power Principle tie together historical events to revive a common thread, the series may also encourage viewers to reconsider their understanding of historical events and the portrayal of them, showing how those in power play a role in manipulating the collective memory through generations.
Leviathan is an immerse film documenting the toll that commercial fishing continues to take on the life of the ocean. The message is explicit in the imagery of the film, which largely avoids exposition and context; goes on without narration, unfolding largely in the dark of night. Attesting to the power of estrangement and visceral imagery, Heavy-metal music coincides with heavy machinery, grinding gears and chains, to also similarly portray the repetitive hard-work of trawling life, against the collapse of ocean-life.
Six years after the housing bubble burst in the United States in 2008, the worst is yet to come. After a recent landmark settlement, major banks have lifted the freeze on foreclosures, with evictions again in full swing. Public housing budgets have been slashed, while the thin line between home ownership and homelessness grows ever more wide. People are angry about the impunity of the banks and some have found innovative ways of fighting back in an age of austerity. For Sale travels to Chicago and California to see how people at the forefront of the crisis are confronting the collapse of the American dream.
Fracking In America takes a look at the continuing instances of water contamination and environmental damage occurring throughout the United States as a result of hydraulic fracturing—an industrial process used to fracture rock in the search to exploit natural gas deposits. As the frantic effort to extract gas accelerates, the impact of fracking expands also, with increasing pressures on fresh water supplies, continuing threats to health and wider ecosystems…
On 20th April 2010, the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded off the Gulf of Mexico in the United States, killing eleven workers, and spewing millions of barrels of oil into the ocean for weeks. Dirty Energy brings to light the personal stories of the Louisiana fishermen and local residents directly impacted by one of the worst environmental disasters in recent history, as they struggle to rebuild their lives and contend with emerging health crises related to the toxic dispersants used to clean up the explosion.
Over the past decade, the United States military has shifted the way it fights its wars, deploying more technological systems in the battlefield than human forces. Today there are more than 7,000 drones and 12,000 ground robots in use by all branches of the military. These systems mean less deaths for US troops, but increased killings and precision elsewhere for the United States war machine. With lethal drone strikes being carried out in secret by the CIA and occurring outside of officially declared war zones such as Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia, the secret use of robots and drones in this way evokes serious questions about the operations of the United States and what this means for the rest of the world as more and more autonomy is developed for these technologies.
Over the past three decades, obesity rates in the United States have more than doubled for children and tripled for adolescents, and a startling 70% of adults are now obese or overweight. The result has been a widening epidemic of obesity-related health problems. But while discussions about this crisis tend to focus solely on the need for individual responsibility and more exercise, Feeding Frenzy turns its focus squarely on the responsibility of the processed food industry and the outmoded government policies it benefits from. It lays bare how government subsidies designed to feed the hungry during the Great Depression have enabled the food industry to flood the market with a rising tide of cheap, addictive, high calorie food products, and offers an engrossing look at the tactics of the multi billion-dollar advertising industry that makes sure that everyone keeps consuming.
Persons of Interest is a four part series where former activists and political dissidents are given their previously secret ASIO files and asked to explain the allegations contained in them. As a result, the series unravels the hidden political and cultural history of Australia that is still being unmasked today in a world gripped by confirmations of mass surveillance abuses by ASIO and other intelligence agencies such as the NSA in the United States. Using the content of the ASIO records themselves along with genuine surveillance footage, this series tells the story of spies, traitors and intelligence intrigue in Australia against a backdrop of the big political events of the 20th century; at a time when fear of Communism, outsiders and threats to the established order fostered the construction of a vast and secret network of surveillance on ordinary people.
A behind the scenes look into what happens when you buy from the world’s biggest online retailer: Amazon. Through testimonials of ex-employees and an undercover employee with a camera, the tough conditions for workers are revealed. The film exposes the immense pressure the workers go through, such as racing a computerised clock every step of their shift, and having to walk up to 11 miles a day inside the distribution centres. As more people around the world turn to online shopping with a click of a button, staff members working at Amazon are put under mental and physical stress to deliver out of sight, out of mind.
Admit it—you don’t really read the endless pages of terms and conditions connected to every website you visit or phone call that you make do you? Of course not. But every day billion-dollar corporations are learning more about your interests, your friends and family, your finances, and your secrets—precisely because of this; and are not only selling the information to the highest bidder, but freely sharing it with the government. And you agreed to all of it. With plenty of recent real-world examples, Terms And Conditions May Apply covers just a little of what governments and corporations are legally taking from Internet users every day—turning the future of both privacy and civil liberties into serious question. From whistleblowers and investigative journalists to zombie fan clubs and Egyptian dissidents, this film demonstrates how all of us online have incrementally opted-in to a real-time surveillance state, click by click.
Martin Daubney walks away from his position as editor of a renowned porn magazine after becoming a father. With his son, now four years old amongst the confusion by contradictory headlines, and driven by the knowledge that his boy will soon reach the age at which most children first see porn—10 years old—Daubney wants to find some answers. How does pornography effect kids? Where is the evidence? Porn on The Brain takes us through the journey, and Daubney discovers that porn has changed from what he remembers as a teenager—today’s porn is extreme, it’s free, it’s pervasive and only one click away, and Daubney is shocked by the content. Porn on The Brain reviews internationally-renowned neuroscientists, leading therapists and educators who are all concerned about the effects on vulnerable teenage brains today of free and easy access to hardcore pornography. The film includes the shocking results of a specially-commissioned survey of teen porn habits, conducted for the documentary by the University of East London; and collaborates with the University of Cambridge to conduct the first study of its kind, scanning the brains of men who feel they are addicted to porn. When will we acknowledge that there is a problem?
Away from its busy capital city and famous canal, Panama is one of the world’s most ecologically diverse nations. Yet huge new hydroelectric dam projects now underway are seeing pristine rivers damned and virgin rainforest flooded. The government says it is vital for ‘economic growth’, with international corporate interests rushing into the country, and even the United Nations awarding ‘carbon credits’ on the basis that the resultant energy will be “sustainably produced”. But for the indigenous Ngabe people—whose homes are vanishing under water—it is a catastrophe, and they are fighting back…
We Will Not Be Moved documents the unpredictable reality for thousands of Cambodia’s poor that are being forcibly evicted from their houses in the name of urban development. Cambodia’s land ownership was thrown into chaos when Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge extinguished private title but now money and corruption are playing havoc with the country’s attempts to bring back private property. There is one brave group known as the BK13—a group of 13 women—that are not prepared to let greedy developers take the very, very little they have. But with half a million residents forcibly evicted in recent years, it’s an enormous fight they have on their hands…
Combining graphs and other visual examples in animation, this short film goes through the issues surrounding the collapse of industrial civilisation—by collating the interconnectedness of energy depletion, carrying capacity, population growth, peak natural resource extraction, and other issues with the problems of exponential economic growth on a finite planet. Can this current way of life continue? The film takes us through these problems and also examines some of the many flaws inherent in some proposed solutions, such as ‘change-by-personal-consumer-choice’, or the vague belief in technology as the deus ex machina to save the day. These serious problems need serious solutions and require a radical rethinking of this current way of life that cannot continue indefinitely. Time is short…
Climate Of Doubt is an investigation into the growing forces manipulating public opinion on the scientific consensus of impacts to global climate by industrial civilisation. A massive disinformation campaign is growing from the fronts of government and corporate interests to undermine scientific processes and reshape public perceptions. Climate Of Doubt ventures inside these organisations to demonstrate the strong influence of the global politick on maintaining established denial, and ignoring culpability on the issue of anthropogenic climate change.
Cypherpunks is a movement originating from the 1980s aiming to improve Internet privacy and security through proactive use of cryptography. With WikiLeaks being a recent offshoot of the many projects derived from the Cypherpunk movement, WikiLeaks editor Julian Assange talks with three activists from the Cyberpunk world to cover the topics of mass surveillance and social control being tied directly into technology as modern society progressively intertwines with technological progress…
John Pilger talks about the various mainstream media commonalities of today—censorship by omission, information management, Public Relations and the ‘massaging of information’, as well as the clever distractions such as the election of Obama as a war monger in the land of slavery, alongside figures such as Hillary Clinton and Julia Gillard as a false win for so-called ‘feminist ideals.’ Amongst the ongoing wars played by the United States, Britain and Australia, Media And War — Challenging The Consensus is a renewed call to unravel complex propaganda and cut through distractions.
The Dust Bowl is a four part series that chronicles the worst human-induced environmental disaster in history. A frenzied wheat boom, followed by a decade-long drought during the 1930s, destroyed much of the American and Canadian prairies through wind erosion. Blizzards killed agricultural crops and animals, threatened many other lives and forced thousands of people to pack up and move somewhere else. The series shows vivid interviews with twenty-six survivors from the dust storms, combined with dramatic photographs and footage from the era, recounting the stories of incredible human suffering at the hands of industrial agriculture—a linear system that destroys top-soil and exploits the land for quick surplus. The series also reveals a morality tale about how this culture exploits the land that sustains us—a lesson we ignore at our peril.
Girl Model offers a glimpse into the hall of mirrors that is the modelling world as it interfaces with other industries and other countries. The film follows Ashley—a deeply ambivalent former-model who is now a scout and scours the Siberian countryside looking for ‘fresh faces’ to send to the Japanese market; and one of her ‘discoveries,’ Nadya, a thirteen year-old plucked from the Siberian countryside and dropped into the centre of Tokyo with promises of a profitable career. What entails is the opening of a can of worms that isn’t easily solved in one sitting—a thriving and curiously sinister modelling industry that spans the globe, luring everywhere with pretences of wonder, success and riches. But the realities are harsh. The fashion industry can look glamorous from the outside, but its insides are, at the very least, deceptive and sinister; and the myths run deeply entrenched in the culture, constantly promulgating new, young recruits. This ‘meat market,’ a prelude to sex trafficking, is creepy, ugly, and preys on the young and vulnerable. Can the spell be broken?
Initially, the Americans claimed that they were not recording casualty figures. George Bush stated that America would do its “utmost to avoid civilian casualties”. But now, details of the US Military themselves recording over 109,000 deaths have been released by Wikileaks — over 66,000 civilian deaths; 176,000 civilians and others wounded. Iraq’s Secret War Files reveals the true scale of civilian casualties, and examines evidence that after the “scandal” of Abu Ghraib, American soldiers continued to torture prisoners; and that US forces did not intervene in the torture and murder of detainees by Iraqi security services…
Are we willfully trashing the planet in the pursuit of endless things? What’s the source of the frenetic consumer energy and desire? In a fast-paced tour of the ecological and psychological terrain of consumer culture, Shop ‘Til You Drop challenges the viewer to confront these questions head-on. Taking aim at the high-stress, high-octane pace of materialism, the film moves beneath the seductive surfaces of the commercial world to show how the other side of consumerism is depletion—the slow, steady erosion of not only the natural world, but basic human and community values. Shop ‘Til You Drop contextualises the turbulence of this moment, providing an unflinching critique of the limits of consumerism and the so-called “pursuit of happiness.”
Within a single generation, digital media, the Internet and the World Wide Web have transformed virtually every aspect of modern culture, from the way we learn and work to the ways in which we socialise and even conduct war. But is technology moving faster than we can adapt to it? Is our constantly-wired-world causing us to lose as much as we’ve apparently gained? In Digital Nation, Douglas Rushkoff and Rachel Dretzin explore what it means to be human in a 21st-century digital world…
Freakonomics is a segmented adaptation of the book by the same name, by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner about incentives-based thinking. The film presents segments to examine the theories of human behaviour and data mining presented in the book through case studies. Subjects include: the influence a person’s name has on their personal and social development; corruption in an honor-bound sport such as sumo wrestling; what alleged factors lead to a statistical reduction in crime rates in the United States during the 1990s; and a school experiment to see if cash payments could incentivise students to get good grades. Through these examples and others, the film exposes the problems with data-driven economic incentive models, and the society obsessed with quantitative measuring and data, rather than a focus on quality of outcomes or even what the outcomes are.
Every day, the world over, large amounts of high-level radioactive waste is placed in interim storages which are vulnerable to natural disasters, human-caused disasters, and societal changes. In Finland, the world’s first ‘permanent’ repository is being hewn out of solid rock—a huge system of underground tunnels that must last hundreds of thousands of years. Once the waste has been dumped and the ground is full of this waste, the land is to be sealed off with concrete and “never be opened again.” Or so the builders of this dump can hope. But can they ensure that? How is it possible to warn future generations of the deadly waste that’s left behind by this culture? How do we prevent future generations from thinking they have found the ‘pyramids’ of our time, mystical burial grounds, or hidden treasures? Into Eternity is a film about the insanity of nuclear power and the consequences that have impacts for hundreds of thousands of years.
By charting the history of the anti-war movement against the political backdrop of the atomic age, Beating The Bomb examines the current state of ‘nuclear deterrence’ brought about by the nuclear age stemming from the end of World War II, when the United States nuked Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Specifically, the anti-nuclear movement and the founding of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament in 1958 amongst others, fight for and end to the British Nuclear Weapons program, which from its inception, was closely tied to The Manhattan Project and still is to this day…
In the late 1990s, the Reserve Bank of Australia thought it was on a winner. The bank had developed the technology to create polymer bank notes that it claimed rivalled paper money. So the Reserve Bank decided to set up a subsidiary company called Securency to sell the technology to the world. It had just one problem though—getting legitimate access to other central bank officials to pitch the idea. So instead, Securency decided to employ a shadow network of local “fixer agents” to make “connections” with relevant officials, lavishing them with prostitutes, cash, and bribing them into deals. Dirty Money is the story of this institutional corruption at the highest level of finance in Australia.
Is the world heading for a population crisis? Since 1950, the human population has more than doubled. What is the effect of this rapid growth on the environment? While much of the projected growth in human population is likely to come from the so-called “developing world,” it is the lifestyle enjoyed by the West that has the most impact—in the UK consumers use as much as two and a half times their fair share of Earth’s resources. This film examines whether it is the duty of individuals to commit not only to smaller families, but to change the way they live for the sake of humanity and planet Earth.