“HOW TO START A REVOLUTION”
Written and directed by RUARIDH ARROW, Big Indy Films, (2011, 85 min)
WHEN: Sunday July 7, 2013 1:15PM
WHERE: Community Church NY, Gallery Room 28 East 35th St. btwn Park & Madison Aves.
ADMISSION: Free, donations appreciated
HOW TO START A REVOLUTION is the remarkable untold story of Nobel Peace Prize nominee Gene Sharp, the world's leading expert on non-violent revolution. This new film from first time director Ruaridh Arrow reveals how Gene's work has given a new generation of revolutionary leaders the weapons needed to overthrow dictators. It shows how his 198 steps to non-violent regime change have inspired uprisings from Serbia to Ukraine and from Egypt to Syria and how his work has spread across the globe in an unstoppable wave of profound democratic change. How To Start A Revolution is the story of the power of people to change their world, the modern revolution and the man behind it all.
Half a world away from Cairo’s Tahrir Square, an ageing American intellectual shuffles around his cluttered terrace house in a working-class Boston neighborhood. His name is Gene Sharp. White-haired and now in his mid-eighties, he grows orchids, he has yet to master the internet and he hardly seems like a dangerous man. But for the world’s dictators his ideas can be the catalyst for the end of their regime. Few people outside the world of academia have ever heard his name, but his writings on nonviolent revolution (most notably ‘From Dictatorship to Democracy’, a 93-page, guide to toppling dictators, available free for download in 40 languages) have inspired a new generation of protesters living under authoritarian regimes who yearn for democratic freedom.
His ideas have taken root in places as far apart as Burma, Thailand, Bosnia, Estonia, Iran, Indonesia, Zimbabwe, Venezuela and now in Syria, Egypt and elsewhere in the Middle East as old orders crumble amidst the protests of their disgruntled citizens. The film reveals how Gene’s ideas work in action using extended interviews with Gene himself, his assistant, his followers and leaders of revolutionary movements worldwide, as well as user-generated content from around the globe, to reveal the power of nonviolent revolution on the streets.
His seminal book, ‘From Dictatorship to Democracy’ has been the standard manual for leaders of ‘color’ revolutions around the globe. He has been called the ‘Machiavelli of nonviolent struggle’, and called much worse by the regimes who have fallen as a result of his work.
His methods have been used in democratic struggles in the Balkans, throughout Eastern Europe in Georgia, the Ukraine, in Indonesia, Burma and Iran. In 2009 the Iranian government charged protesters with following Gene Sharp’s tactics; the Tehran Times reported: According to the indictment a number of the accused “confessed that the post-election unrest was preplanned and the plan was following the timetable of the velvet revolution to the extent that over 100 stages of the 198 steps of Gene Sharp were implemented in the foiled velvet revolution.”
The film profiles Sharp and his ally Retired U.S. Army Colonel Robert Helvey, who has used Gene’s methods to train activists, along with a number of the key leaders of nonviolent revolutions around the world, all of whom testify to the power of Gene’s work in practice. The film climaxes as the current insurrection in Egypt testifies to the power of Gene’s work as the action as unfolds on the streets of Cairo. Throughout, the film is illustrated with user-generated content of protesters and activists filmed on mobile phones in the street in Egypt, Tunisia, Iran, Serbia and elsewhere in the world.