RESISTANCE CINEMA presents John Pilger’s “THE WAR ON DEMOCRACY” Written, Directed and Reported by John Pilger, Executive Producer Michael Watt, Producer Wayne Young, Chris Martin, Bullfrog Films, 2007 94 minutes
WHEN: Sunday June 22nd 1:15pm
WHERE: Community Church of NYC 28 East 35th st. @Park ave.
ADMISSION: Free, donations appreciated
This is the first major film for the cinema by Australian journalist John Pilger, who has already made some 55 documentaries for television. The War on Democracy examines Washington’s role in manipulating Latin American politics over the last fifty years. From its support for the juntas in El Salvador and Chile to the infamous “School of the Americas” which trained torturers and death squads at secret U.S. locations for military dictatorships, Pilger investigates the hidden face of a country that presents itself as the defender of freedom and democracy. At the same time, he travels across today’s South America to record the birth of a populist movement against colonial intervention by the United States.
Pilger is no lover of America and it shows: this is an angry documentary and its thundering condemnation of US adventurism abroad is about as subtle as an anvil dropped from the Empire State Building. Still, there's no denying Pilger's conclusions, especially after revealing confrontations with ex-CIA chiefs highlight the contempt that many senior American figures have for democracy and the nations that comprise the USA's "backyard".
Pilger begins in Venezuela, where an eye-opening interview with charismatic President Hugo Chávez - America's current bugbear in the region - suggests that "a war is being waged against all of us". According to Pilger, America's distrust of socialist or (heaven forbid) communist governments in Latin America has led to anti-democratic initiatives. From Allende's Chile to the Sandinistas in Nicaragua, popular movements not endorsed by the American Foreign Office have frequently been undermined. The reason? To promote American economic interests: "Whole countries have been privatised, put up for sale, their natural wealth sold for peanuts."
The talking head interviews are a joy to watch, full of sly wit and an indefatigable sense of purpose. Pilger's like a dog with a bone, hounding his interviewees until they yield up their innermost marrow. "That's just tough... like it or lump it," remarks former CIA chief Duane Clarridge when Pilger challenges him over America's destruction of democracy and its support of state terror in the shape of dictators like Pinochet. "In the CIA we didn't give a hoot about democracy," shrugs Clarridge in a sobering moment where the mask finally slips.
The War on Democracy reminds us of the true meaning of “democracy” – a government of, for and by the people.