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Occupying the Big Screen: Film Festival Documents Occupy’s First Year

5:33 pm in Uncategorized by Michelle Chen

Originally posted at The Progressive

Occupy Wall Street has always been as much a media phenomenon as a political one. The revolution hasn’t exactly been televised, but Occupy’s biggest victory so far has been its radical public-relations coup, saturating both mainstream and alternative outlets with icons and images of popular protest that have been subsequently broadcast, live-streamed, and projected, bat signal-style, onto the concrete face of the New York skyline. But there are still aspects of the movement waiting to be documented.

Now that the media establishment’s spotlight has faded somewhat, a film festival devoted to Occupy at Manhattan’s Anthology Film Archives has returned those radical aesthetics to the foreground, conscious of the singular ability of old-fashioned film to capture the crackling energy of a social movement. And the films selected by the festival coordinators, Arun Gupta of the Indypendent and New York University media professor Michelle Fawcett, were presented as both a nostalgic retrospective and hopeful prequel to the next chapter.

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From Cairo to New York, Which Side Are Police On?

2:26 pm in Uncategorized by Michelle Chen

Cross-posted from In These Times:

[Ed. Note - Photo removed. It isn't permitted to use AFP/Getty images here unless one furnishes the license/agreement to use such an image. ]

As the Arab Spring enters a tense autumn chill, Tahrir Square remains a fiery political battleground, where struggles between the people and the state constantly churn and redefinine themselves. When police officers went on strike in October, they raised hard questions about the position of the public sector in the struggle against counterrevolution.

Thousands of Egypt’s police, though tarnished by the shameful violence deployed by security forces during the January 25 uprising, are now staging their own revolt. Meanwhile, the military brass, initially lauded in the early days of the revolution when it refrained from crushing demonstrators on behalf of Mubarak’s dictatorship, have become the target of public vitriol. The chaos—part of a continual wave of strikes, demonstrations and crackdowns—illustrates the people’s growing bitterness at the hijacking of their revolution by a reactionary junta.

So are the cops defecting to join the rabble? The momentum comes from struggling rank-and-file officers who actively distance themselves from the corrupt interim regime and notoriously cruel Interior Ministry. Alongside basic bread-and-butter grievances about wages and working conditions—the crux of all the strikes that have rocked the country this year—there are calls for an internal overhaul to restore the integrity and credibility of the institution. Read the rest of this entry →