FILMS > 10 DOCUMENTARIES
10 DOCUMENTARIES

Documentaries have an unrivalled power to use human stories to make us think about much broader issues. The 10 films at the centre of Why Democracy? do just that, with filmmakers across the world taking us into the heart of their countries to explore the complex questions of modern democracy.

The Why Democracy? project began two years ago and it’s first broadcast is scheduled for October 8th this year. It has produced some exceptional, challenging and unconventional stories. The films are unconventional documentaries in two senses. Firstly democracy - an idea - is their primary focus above any specific country or event. Secondly, they are not overtly prescriptive. These are not films by experts, about experts, telling us what “the situation is” in Iraq, or Chile, or South Africa, or Iran. These films hope to illuminate for anyone, in any country, a gnarly idea called democracy. Democracy as it exists today, not as we wish it to be.

The commissioned films were selected from over 400 submissions on the strength of their engagement with the kind of questions we wanted to ask about democracy. Is any society in the world truly democractic? What does democracy mean if you live below the poverty line? Is capitalism good for democracy? Are dictators ever good? What kind of democracy can we build in the 21st Century? Is democracy good for everyone?

The 10 films that make up Why Democracy?, confront these issues head on. They do not provide packaged answers, but illuminate the contradictions, challenges and hopes and disappointments of democracy in the 21st century, speaking a language that everyone understands.

Why Democracy? is a unique effort to grow a global conversation about “the biggest political idea of our time” using documentary film to initiate the debate.

 

Post-broadcast, the films will be distributed on DVD in a number of world languages, available to institutions, organisations and individuals interested in promoting open dialogue about democracy.

 

Bloody Cartoons
Duration: post-production
Director: Karsten Kjaer
About this film:
Freedom of expression is a democratic principle: does this mean ‘limitless freedom’, and at what cost to other democratic rights? Are some democratic values more important than others? Cartoons in a Danish provincial paper brought these questions to the forefront of world politics
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Campaign! The Kawasaki Candidate
Duration: complete
Director: Kazuhiro Soda
About this film:
A first-time reluctant candidate gets to grips with what it takes to win an election for the Japanese Prime Minister’s Liberal Democratic Party. Filmmaker Kazuhiro Soda’s cinema-verite documentary closely follows the heated election campaign in Kawasaki, Japan, revealing the true nature of "democracy".
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Dinner with the President
Duration: post-production
Director: Sabiha Sumar and Sachithanandam Sathananthan
About this film:
Filmmakers Sabiha Sumar and Sachithanandam Sathananthan ask what democracy means in Pakistan – where its main promoter is the Chief of the Army who assumed power through military coup, and where society often still functions according to older tribal rules for political and social life.
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Egypt: We Are Watching You
Duration: post-production
Director: Leila Menjou and Sherief Elkatsha
About this film:
After 24 years of leadership under President Mubarak’s National Democratic Party, Egypt is a nation on the brink of change. However, violence and widespread allegations of fraud accompany the first democratic multiparty elections in 2005. The film follows three women activists in their quest to expose the truth about Egypt’s new democracy.
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For God, Tsar and the Fatherland
Duration: post-production
Director: Nino Kirtadze
About this film:
Sixteen years after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the phrase ‘managed democracy’ describes the state of Russian politics. What does a post-democratic Russia look like?
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In Search of Gandhi
Duration: production
Director: Lalit Vachani
About this film:
What kind of democracy does India have today? Using Gandhi’s famous Dandi salt march through Gujarat as a starting point, this road-movie style documentary looks at contemporary India, the world’s biggest democracy, and explores the significance of the Gandhian legacy of peace and non-violence for democratic movements in the twenty first century.
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Iron Ladies of Liberia
Duration: post-production
Director: Siatta Scott Johnson and Daniel Junge
About this film:
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is the first ever freely elected female head of state in Africa. How does she lead Liberia, a nation ready for change, in it’s first year of democratic rule after nearly two decades of civil war?
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Looking for the Revolution
Duration: post-production
Director: Rodrigo Vazquez
About this film:
Ché Guevara died in Bolivia trying to bring revolution to South America. Forty years later, his admirer Evo Morales becomes the continent's first elected indigenous president with the promise of continuing Che's unfinished revolution. Will he be able to do it?
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Please Vote for Me
Duration: complete
Director: Weijun Chen
About this film:
In an elementary school in the city of Wuhan in central China, eight-year old children compete for the position of Class Monitor. Their parents, devoted to their only child, take part and start to influence the results. PLEASE VOTE FOR ME is a film about an experiment with democracy in China.
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Taxi to the Dark Side
Duration: complete
Director: Alex Gibney
About this film:
The US government has developed what appears to be a policy of using torture while at the same time spreading its message of democracy around the world. The ease with which ideas fundamental to the rule of law were subverted in the process, provokes difficult questions about the kind of future American-style democracy will bring.
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