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The Activists
War, Peace, and Politics in the Streets

The story of activists who opposed the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, including their lives, the tactics they used, and the historical context.

A printer-friendly version of this page 60 minutes
SDH Captioned>>

Directed by Melody Shemtov
Produced by Melody Shemtov, Michael T. Heaney, Marco Roldán
Writers: Michael T. Heaney and Melody Shemtov
Editors: Marco Roldán and Melody Shemtov
Camera: Melody Shemtov
Music: Aaron Barnes
Animation: Marco Roldán
Narration: Rob Constantine
A Melofilms Production

"A wonderful and revealing depiction of antiwar protest politics." Jeffrey Berry, Professor, Political Science, Tufts University
[Note: Community screenings of THE ACTIVISTS can be booked at Bullfrog Communities.]

Activists and activism have long been a part of the struggle for peace and justice in American politics and society. Activists have fought battles for civil rights, voter enfranchisement, collective bargaining, and an end to wars. While these struggles have sometimes yielded significant victories, and at other times resulted in disappointing defeats, activism has always been driven by ordinary people who give freely of their time and resources to try to bring about their visions for a new world. However, activists -- as well as how they fit into the political process -- are often overlooked or misunderstood by their fellow citizens.

The Activists: War, Peace, and Politics in the Streets brings to life the stories of ordinary people who tried to stop and end the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. At best, activists had limited influence over the conduct of military policy after 9/11. Yet, their experiences in the antiwar movement helped them to learn about speaking out in the face of injustice. They inspired others to do the same during the Arab Spring and Occupy Wall Street movements. Indeed, democracy requires more than just one vote every four years. It requires continued pressure by citizens on their government. This is what democracy looks like!

Featuring leading activists and scholars including Tom Hayden, Leslie Cagan, Medea Benjamin, and Michael Heaney.

Grade Level: 9 - 12, College, Adults
US Release Date: 2017     Copyright Date: 2017
DVD ISBN: 1-941545-75-0

"The Activists is essential viewing for all those who want to better understand the most powerful forces that are changing our world today: engaged citizens who join together in mass movements...This is what democracy looks like. The Activists are the hope."
David Goodman, Co-author, Democracy Now! Twenty Years Covering the Movements Changing America

"Totally riveting."
Louis Proyect, Counterpunch

"Thought-provoking...Inspiring...A reminder of the importance of preserving democracy."
Candace Smith, Booklist

"This stirring film follows the hardy bands of activists--including Iraq veterans--who kept hope alive as the war dragged on. They nurtured the spirit that would sustain, after them, the Occupy movement, Black Lives Matter, and resistance to Donald Trump. This is what democracy looks like!"
Howard Brick, Director, Eisenberg Institute for Historical Studies, University of Michigan, Author, Transcending Capitalism: Visions of a New Society in Modern American Thought

"A sympathetic study of activism that will appeal to viewers interested in contemporary political movements."
Stephen Hupp, Library Journal

"A wonderful and revealing depiction of antiwar protest politics. It offers a realistic portrait of the challenges and potential of organizing street protest designed to mobilize public opinion. There's a lot to learn from this film."
Jeffrey Berry, Professor of Political Science, Tufts University, Author, The Outrage Industry: Political Opinion Media and the New Incivility

"This film highlights the fascinating diversity, challenges, and struggles in the anti-war movement. Bringing together powerful images of protest events, commentary, and classic peace movement speeches, it will be an ideal addition to classes on social movements, political sociology, and American politics."
Catherine Corrigall-Brown, Associate Professor of Sociology, University of British Columbia

"This is a timely and insightful film, helping a new generation of social movement activists learn from the work of their immediate predecessors."
David Karpf, Associate Professor of Media and Public Affairs, George Washington University

"This film is a valuable record of activism's recent past, highlighting many of its strengths and weaknesses, and posing and even moving us toward answering the question of what comes next."
David Swanson, Director, World Beyond War, Campaign Coordinator, Roots Action, Author, War is a Lie

"This film is both historically and academically rigorous, connecting ideas from early movements in the 20th century right up to the uprisings in the Middle East in 2011...It will be an excellent catalyst for discussion in classrooms and communities around issues of activism, organizing and war. Highly recommended."
Amir Amirani, Director of We Are Many

"The Activists explores the risks, processes, and joys of activism. Heaney brings his years of social movement scholarship to life in this impressive documentary. The film covers the wide spectrum of activists involved in the many peace movement organizations during the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars."
Lisa Leitz, Assistant Professor of Peace Studies and Sociology, Chapman University, Author, Fighting for Peace

"The Activists takes us through two wars, two presidencies, and campaigns and coalitions across the United States. The documentary takes the perspective of those brave people who have struggled to mobilize effective political action."
David Meyer, Professor of Sociology, Political Science, and Planning, Policy, and Design, University of California-Irvine, Author, The Politics of Protest: Social Movements in America

"A valuable resource that documents why activists plan, march, disrupt and provoke. It allows several leaders of groups involved in the US anti-war movement of the 2000s to explain, in their own words, why they do what they do...An interview with Michael Heaney provides scholarly context."
Dr. Will Moore, Professor of Politics and Global Studies at Arizona State University

"Compelling...well balanced...A useful tool in teaching about an important moment in recent history."
Clara Hendricks, School Library Journal

"How can a social movement grow, broaden and deepen over time in order to build the kind of power that sways elected leaders?...The Activists helps viewers reflect on a time when millions of people felt connected to something greater than themselves and puts into perspective the challenges we face today."
Jess Powers, The Indypendent

"It is refreshing to hear voices of hope in a world that abandoned the very idea of peace...That is what one can learn by [this] instructive and educational DVD: taking action to create new possibilities is what democracy and freedom ask us to practice, with the power of our convictions, participation, and activism."
Enzo Ferrara, Leonardo Reviews

Select your institution type

DVDs include public performance rights.

DVD Features
15-minute Bonus Interviews with
* Tom Hayden, Co-Founder, Students for a Democratic Society
* Leslie Cagan, United for Peace and Justice
* Brian Becker, ANSWER Coalition
* SDH Captions for the deaf and hard-of-hearing
* Scene Selection

Host a community screening
The film's website

Awards and Festivals
Grand Jury Prize, London Film Awards
Best Documentary, Trinity International Film Festival
Best Local Documentary Feature, Atlanta DocuFest
3rd Place, Best Documentary Feature, Urban Mediamakers Film Festival
Telling Tales International Film and Audio Documentary Festival
Colorado International Activism Film Festival
Best Documentary, Trinity International Film Festival
International Documentary Festival of Ierapetra, Crete

American Democracy
American Studies
Citizenship and Civics
Foreign Policy

Political Science
Social Justice
War and Peace

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