Our First Look at Occupy's "Collaborative" Documentary

The Slatest
Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Aug. 7 2013 4:48 PM

Our First Look at Occupy's "Collaborative" Documentary

Roughly two years after Occupy Wall Street began, the amorphous protest movement of the 99 percent will take its turn on the big screen by way of a new documentary with a rather self-explanatory title: 99% - The Occupy Wall Street Collaborative Film. Today, we get our first look at the trailer for the feature-length film, which is scheduled to reach theaters early next month.

The project—which boasts a handful of directors and 100 filmmakers among its credits—debuted at Sundance earlier this year, where it received decidedly mixed reviews. But as one look at that trailer suggests, this film seems aimed much more at recapturing a feeling for those who were there than it does at winning converts, or simply providing an entertaining movie-going experience. If it succeeds at the box office, it will most likely do so in those cities and college towns where Occupy had its largest footholds. For those who camped out in Zuccotti Park or similar OWS outposts around the country, the film will likely serve as a trip down memory lane. The more interesting question is whether it will also serve as a call to arms, something that has proved largely elusive for the movement since its protesters packed up their tents.

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Rolling Stone has the backstory on the project, including the fact that it was originally supposed to be a whole lot more collaborative than it turned out to be. "It just didn't work. We couldn't get anything done," Audrey Ewell, one of the two main people behind the film, told the magazine about the original goal of using OWS's non-hierarchical structure as a model for the filmmaking process. "At least with the Occupiers, [they] were in one physical space together. We didn't even have that; we had an email list with hundreds of emails."

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Josh Voorhees is a Slate senior writer. He lives in Iowa City. 

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