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.