In 2015, Sandra Bland, a politically-active 28-year-old black woman from Chicago was stopped by police for a minor traffic offence in a small Texas town. Three days later, she was found dead in a police cell. Though the state claimed it was a suicide, her death enraged the public amid allegations of racially-motivated police murder. This film begins in the days after Sandra’s death, tracking the ensuing two-year battle between Sandra’s aggrieved family and the State of Texas. Following the details about the case, Say Her Name is punctuated by Sandra’s own passionate and moving commentary in 30-second “Sandy Speaks” video blogs. We see an empowered, enlightened woman, whose sharp, humorous, charismatic remarks address subjects from educating kids about black history to police brutality to the importance of natural hair. Say Her Name takes viewers inside this story that galvanised activists across the United States and the world.
In the United States, during the first year of Donald Trump’s presidency, the rise of a white supremacist movement has returned, as political energy is injected into neo-confederate, neo-fascist, neo-Nazi, Klansmen, and various right-wing militia groups. More broadly, civil rights organisations such as Antifa (Anti-Fascist) and social justice groups are fighting back. Alt-Right: Age of Rage follows the development the Alt-Right, by following social justice activist Daryle Lamont Jenkins, and renowned Alt-Right leader Richard Spencer. Each movement is juxtaposed, as tensions boil over to the horrific events in Charlottesville where a young woman is killed, and 30 others injured by a self-identified neo-Nazi. Through these narratives and events, the film surveys the workings of Free Speech, deplatforming by the Left, the role of the Internet, and the consequences of fractured politics playing out in the real physical world.
The Great White Hoax contextualises the current day politicking in the United States, with a primary focus on Donald Trump’s race-baiting 2016 campaign for president. The film also widens scope however to show how Trump’s charged rhetoric fits into a long-standing historical pattern in politics in the United States, offering a stunning survey of how racism and racial scapegoating have shaped American politics for centuries. The film becomes a solid resource for a basis on race relations, white privilege, the intersectionality of race, class, and gender identities, presidential politics, and political propaganda in the age of “social media.”
The setting is in the current and ongoing troubling police culture of violence, profiling and racism. Even a former NYPD officer now breaks ranks to say that the force aggressively targets poor and minority communities in order to meet secret and illegal arrest quotas. The result is a level of systemic harassment and brutality that could be hard to demonstrate, if not for growing groups of Cop Watchers—everyday citizens wielding cameras, that routinely record and publish troves of evidence documenting all kinds of patterns of police brutality and misconduct. This film follows some of the people who are doing this work, and clearly the police don’t like it. They push back hard. Cop Watchers hence face long prison sentences and trumped up charges for simply recording the police—something that is not itself a crime. In an age of intense corruption of public institutions, this film lays out abuses of power on a frightening scale, showing just how urgent serious action is required if a free society is said to continue to exist.
Over the past several years, a seemingly relentless string of killings by police of unarmed black men—Michael Brown in Ferguson, Freddie Gray in Baltimore, Eric Garner in New York—has reignited issues around race, policing and civil rights in the United States that have been languishing unresolved for decades. Recently the issues are critical enough that the Department of Justice has stepped in to mandate reform of several police forces renowned for brutality and institutional abuses of power. In Policing the Police, journalist Jelani Cobb gets up close and personal with police departments and officers alike, to show from the inside the difficulties these institutions now face of fixing a broken relationship with the community after decades of mistrust. Is it even possible with the current police culture? Policing the Police is a powerful case study of these questions, and a light on just how much has to change.
Utopia is both an epic portrayal of the oldest continuous human culture on the planet—indigenous Australia—and an investigation into a suppressed colonial past and rapacious present. One of the world’s best kept secrets is revealed against the great Australian ‘mining boom,’ showing how the country’s racially divided past and current-day media collusion play their parts in a system that is apartheid in all but name. The film examines the exploitation of the Aboriginal population, both as a people and of the land they have lived on for centuries, and how so many institutions have profited while people continue to suffer. The injustice stretches across countless generations and stories. Utopia reveals this universal story of power and resistance, driven by old imperatives, in a media age of saturation which is profoundly silent and complicit; a call to continue resistance.
Using government documents, archive footage and direct interviews with activists and former FBI/CIA officers, All Power to the People documents the history of race relations and the Civil Rights Movement in the United States during the 1960s and 70s. Covering the history of slavery, civil-rights activists, political assassinations and exploring the methods used to divide and destroy key figures of movements by government forces, the film then contrasts into Reagan-Era events, privacy threats from new technologies and the failure of the “War on Drugs”, forming a comprehensive view of the goals, aspirations and ultimate demise of the Civil Rights Movement…
Freedom Riders follows the story of hundreds of civil rights activists who rode interstate buses into the segregated southern United States during the 1960s to challenge local laws enforcing segregation in seating. The Freedom Rides, and the violent reactions they provoked, bolstered the credibility of the American Civil Rights Movement. They called national attention to the disregard for the federal law and the local violence used to enforce segregation in the southern United States. This is the story of the numerous waves of people who challenged the mores of a racially segregated society by performing a disarmingly simple act.
In the name of “protecting children,” the Australian Government’s so-called “emergency intervention” into Aboriginal communities in the remote Northern Territory, has taken away all existing Aboriginal land rights, suspended racial discrimination laws and placed over 70 communities under compulsory government control with subsequent measures of course having very little to do with “protecting children.” Instead, the outcome has been the disempowerment of traditional land owners, the further theft of Aboriginal land, the theft of resources, with the intent being to forcibly assimilate Aboriginal culture.
The shocking story of a well respected Indigenous community leader in outback Western Australia who was locked in a metal cell in the back of a prison van and driven through the desert in the searing heat. Four hours later he was dead. Reporter Liz Jackson reveals the tragic train of events that led to this death, despite repeated warnings that Western Australia’s prisoner transport system was unsafe and inhumane…
Renowned independent journalist John Pilger speaks about complicity and compliance, censorship and citizen journalism as well as issues such as the holocaust in Iraq and Kevin Rudd’s shrewd political apology to the Indigenous peoples of Australia as Prime Minister. “These days, a one-dimensional political culture ensures that few writers write, or speak out, as they did in the last century. They are talented, yet safe. In the media, the more people watch, the less people know. Beneath the smokescreen of objectivity and impartiality, media establishments too often ventriloquise the official line, falling silent at the sight of unpleasant truths.”
The Secret Policeman exposes first hand evidence of racism in the British police forces, revealing how much it has been driven underground since 2002 when a government inquiry branded the police as institutionally racist. Undercover journalist Mark Daly joins the Greater Manchester Police as a trainee, and infiltrates Bruche Police Training Centre in Warrington, Cheshire for several months using hidden cameras to capture direct instances of racism throughout the police force.
The 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney were universally recognised as an overwhelming success. The Australian heroine from start, when she carried the Olympic torch into the stadium, to finish, as she crossed the line to take 400m gold, was the indigenous athlete Cathy Freeman. Against the will of many of her still oppressed people, she came to represent the symbol, albeit shallow, of reconciliation between White Australia and Indigenous Australia. But the frenzy of flames and fireworks surrounding the Games blinded the rest of the world to the real history behind it all…
Apartheid based on race is ‘outlawed now’, but the system always went far deeper than that. The cruelty and injustice were underwritten by an economic apartheid, which regarded people as no more than cheap expendable labour. It was backed by great business corporations in South Africa, Britain, the rest of Europe, and the United States and it was this apartheid based on money and profit that allowed a small minority to control most of the land, most of the industrial wealth, and most of the economic power. Today, the same system is called—without a trace of irony—the free market.
Spring of 1968 in Memphis Tennessee marked the peak of the Civil Rights movement in the United States. At the River I Stand sets out to reconstruct the eventful months leading up to this period by looking at what started as a strike by sanitation workers which quickly soared into a national conflagration. The film disentangles the complex historical forces that came together for the struggle as well the inevitability of tragedy at the death of many, including Martin Luther King. At the River I Stand brings into sharp relief issues that have only become more urgent in the intervening years: the connection between economic and civil rights; debates over strategies for change, and the questions of effectiveness of pacifist tactics for social change; the demand for full inclusion of African Americans in life; as well as the pressing fight for dignity for all working people…
In these three films, John Pilger and Alan Lowery return to Australia to celebrate the country’s bicentenary, interviewing an extraordinary range of Australians from diverse backgrounds, each of whose views are a long way from those of the treasured Aussie stereotypes…
In 1981, the New Zealand government invited the South African rugby team to tour New Zealand. This effectively split the country in half as the rugby tour was seen by some as endorsement of South Africa’s apartheid regime. Patu! recounts the mass civil disobedience that took place throughout New Zealand during the winter of 1981, in protest against the South African rugby tour. Sports grounds and suburban streets became battlefields as the film recounts visceral images of massive protest actions met with police brutality. Patu! is a record of heroism, and for many young people taking to the streets, it was their 1968. Māori and Pākehā, children and grandparents, gang members and clergymen—all in a moment of rare consensus, stood together to affirm shared values.