It is difficult to remain withdrawn while watching We Are Many (2014) mostly because this documentary tracks an event that still remains in the collective consciousness of the audience viewing it. This is a film that calls back to a sort of politicised nostalgia and makes an example of one of the most momentous occasions in the canon of peacetime protesting. The tracking of this watershed moment is competently and potently put together, making for very absorbing viewing. Full of fire and brimstone, this documentary serves as a reminder of the power of the populace and acts as a call to still act on one‘s beliefs. It lays heavy on the emotions and memories of its contributors.
Beginning at the events of the 11th September, going through to the worldwide protests held on the 15th February all the way up to the current state of affairs in the wake of the protest, this film is comprehensive in its coverage. As a work of sobering import, the effectiveness is thorough. In seeking to tear off the presumed blinders of those viewing it, what is presented in the is nothing short of wondrous. Because this film assumes that those viewing can recall the events being spoken of, there is never a feeling of being too far removed from the subject matter. Often, such work seeks to be a means of enlightenment to those uninitiated; here, the documentary acts as a means of remembrance, reverence and reminder of the powers of the call to action. In this way, its not only a snapshot in time or space but rather a recall to arms. On top the the emotional tuggings, the best moments are the haunting ones.
Watching the passion in recollection put forth by protest organisers, activists and repentant politicians makes for truly compelling viewing. Director Amir Amirani here intercuts these interviews with frames of a countdown to the war, further driving home the impending war and thus, impending doom. Newsreel footage laid over recollection of the day of the worldwide protest is riveting to watch. It serves as a reminder of what was (and possibly still is) possible for the world to achieve when united. But, Amirani balances this with the outcome that those onscreen and the audience seem to be dreading: the commencement of the war.
Perhaps the best moment of this section is watching President Bush crack wise at to a ballroom full of well-dressed politicians about not being able to find the fabled “weapons of mass destruction”. As the laughs of the audience are heard, the film cuts in with sobering and horrific images of the effects of the war: photographs of wounded Iraqis, a nation in ruins from the effects of a war that was internationally contested. While thoroughly liberal in its agenda, We Are Many is an essential documentary. Powerful in its goals, complete in its presentation, this is a film that serves as a call to remembrance and a call for future action.
Allie Gemmill | @alliegem