Sept. 17 marks the two-year anniversary of the Occupy movement, which began with Occupy Wall Street in New York City and gradually expanded throughout the country, and the world, in a series of protests and “occupations” against income inequality. While the physical nature of the protests and the presence of protesters has largely faded over the years, the idea behind the Occupy movement seems to have stayed, even subtly, as the national discussion has turned more toward topics of income disparity, and money in politics, and we regularly hear phrases such as “the 99%” that were borne of that movement. The recent Democratic primary for New York City mayor, in which a largely progressive figure was chosen, was seen by some as a repudiation of the city’s current, very wealthy mayor, and as a victory of the mindset created by the Occupy movement. Occupy Wall Street has even found its way into the storyline of HBO’s The Newsroom recently.
Looking back at the formation of the Occupy movement is a film called 99%: The Occupy Wall Street Collaborative Film, which debuts on television on the Pivot network Sept. 17, after airing theatrically in New York and Los Angeles a few weeks ago, and being an Official Selection in the Documentary Competition at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival. The documentary was filmed by collaborating filmmakers in real-time over the first three months or so of Occupy Wall Street and various other “occupations” that it spawned (and covers events that may, likewise, have spawned it, such as the Arab Spring and protests in Wisconsin). Experts such as Rolling Stone‘s Matt Taibi, Naomi Wolf and Occupiers themselves (there’s even an interview with the online group Anonymous) weigh in with recollections of how they felt about it, and what they think Occupy Wall Street did, and what it still may, or should, do.
From its vantage point of having many filmmakers (nearly 100) filming within the Occupy movement as it was taking off, and also having outsiders look in at it from this later date, The Occupy Wall Street Collaborative Film does an effective and inspiring job of rounding up the initial phase of the movement, and is a strong reminder of just how much has gone on in society over just the past two years, also touching on the year after the initial movement — the presidential election year, when income disparity became a key talking point among the candidates.
According to the film’s founding director, Audrey Ewell, “I wanted to place OWS in a contemporary and historical context, taking both a micro and macro view of the social, political and economic facets of the story, and to help us to understand and engage these fascinating questions today.”
99%: The Occupy Wall Street Collaborative Film premieres Sept. 17 at 8pm ET on Pivot.