This powerful new documentary from legendary film-maker John Pilger is out in UK cinemas from Friday June 15th.
Showing at: CURZON Soho, BARBICAN, RITZY Brixton and CORNERHOUSE Manchester, and cinemas across the UK in July and August
The War on Democracy
'The War on Democracy' is award-winning writer/director John Pilger's first major film for the cinema…in a career that has produced more than 55 television documentaries. Set in Latin America and the US, it explores the historic and current relationship of Washington with countries such as Venezuela, Bolivia and Chile.
"The film tells a universal story," says Pilger, "analysing and revealing, through vivid testimony, the story of great power behind its venerable myths. It allows us to understand the true nature of the so-called war on terror".
John Pilger has made some of the most celebrated documentaries ever shown. He has won television academy awards on both sides of the Atlantic, an American ‘EMMY’ and a British ‘BAFTA’ for a lifetime’s distinction in factual television. His first film, made in 1970, ‘The Quiet Mutiny’, had an extraordinary impact when it revealed that the US military in Vietnam was in open revolt and the war was unwinnable. His 1979 film, ‘Year Zero’ is credited with alerting much of the world to the suffering of Cambodia under Pol Pot. His 1994 film, ‘Death of a Nation’, similarly brought the suffering of the East Timorese people to a worldwide audience for the first time. His last film, “Stealing a Nation” (2004) won the Royal Television Society Award for Best Documentary. His 2003 film “Breaking the Silence; Truth and Lies in the War on Terror” is credited as the inspiration for Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11.
In addition, he has twice won British journalism’s highest award, that of Journalist of the Year, for his work all over the world, notably in Cambodia and Vietnam. He has been International Reporter of the Year and holds the United Nations Association Media Peace Prize. In 2003 he was awarded the prestigious Sophie Prize for ‘thirty years of exposing deception and improving human rights’.
“John Pilger unearths, with steely attention to facts, the filthy truth and tells it as it is. I salute him.” Harold Pinter, 2005 Nobel Prizewinner
In his second inauguration address, President Bush pledged to ‘bring democracy to the world’. In his speech he mentioned the words ‘democracy’ and ‘liberty’ 21 times. Most of the world, it is fair to say, will have recoiled, many in fear. Bush’s speech was significant because it finally stripped noble concepts like ‘democracy’ of their true meaning – government, for, by and of the people.
This film explores the theme of disenchantment with democracy, concentrating on those parts of the world where people have struggled with blood, sweat and tears to plant democracy, only to see it brutally crushed.
Pilger filmed in the US, where he conducted illuminating and shocking interviews with a number of renegade CIA agents who took part in secret campaigns against democratic countries and who today are profiting from the war in Iraq.
He investigated, through undercover filming, the ‘School of Americas’ in Georgia, USA. General Pinochet’s torture squads were trained in this secretive place, along with tyrants and death-squad leaders of Haiti, El Salvador, Brazil, Argentina, indeed every Latin American country where democracy was annihilated by the graduates of this ‘school’ where torture classes were held…the blueprints for Guantanamo Bay.
Archive footage demonstrates how democracy has been wiped out in country after country in Latin America since the 1950s. Carl Deal, chief archivist on both ‘Fahrenheit 9/11’ and Moore’s previous film, ‘Bowling for Colombine’, brings his talents to Pilger’s ‘The War on Democracy’.
“In one hour, Cambodia Year Zero laid bare astonishing facts with such skill and power it was impossible to get up and leave the preview theatre” The Times.
The film contains moving testimonies from those who fought and suffered for democracy – in Chile and Bolivia.
Pilger travelled through Venezuela with its president, Hugo Chavez, the only leader of an oil-producing nation who has used its resources democratically - for the education and health of its people. Despite being toppled from his presidency in 2002 by rich and powerful interests backed by the US, he was brought back to power by the sheer weight of Venezuelan people power. The film has a positive element; great power is not invincible.
Filming in the Andean country of Bolivia shows that for the last five years huge popular movements have demanded that multinational companies be refused to access the country’s natural reserves of gas, or to buy up the water supply.
Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere