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The Activists

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.

'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

'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 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


Main credits

Shemtov, Melody (film director)
Shemtov, Melody (film producer)
Shemtov, Melody (screenwriter)
Shemtov, Melody (editor of moving image work)
Heaney, Michael T. (film producer)
Heaney, Michael T. (screenwriter)
Heaney, Michael T. (interviewee (expression))
Roldán, Marco (film producer)
Roldán, Marco (editor of moving image work)
Barnes, Aaron (composer)
Hayden, Tom (interviewee (expression))
Cagan, Leslie (interviewee (expression))
Benjamin, Medea (interviewee (expression))
Zephyn, Zeus (narrator)
Constantine, Rob (narrator)

Other credits

Editors, Marco Roldán, Melody Shemtov; original score, Aaron Barnes.

Docuseek2 subjects

Distributor subjects

American Democracy
American Studies
Citizenship and Civics
Foreign Policy, US
Political Science
Social Justice
War and Peace


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