Bloody Cartoons is a documentary about how and why 12 drawings in a Danish provincial paper could whirl a small country into a confrontation with Muslims all over the world. He asks whether respect for Islam combined with the heated response to the cartoons is now leading us towards self-censorship. How tolerant should we be, he wonders, of the intolerant. And what limits should there be, if any, to freedom of speech in a democracy.
Can a candidate with no political experience and no charisma win an election? Perhaps – if he is backed by the political giant, Prime Minister Koizumi and his Liberal Democratic Party (LDP). In the fall of 2005, 40-year-old, self-employed Kazuhiko “Yama-san” Yamauchi’s peaceful, humdrum life was turned upside-down when Koizumi’s LDP party chose him at the last moment as its official candidate to run for a vacant seat on the Kawasaki City Council. With zero experience in politics, no charisma, no supporters, and no constituency, Yama-San has one week to prepare for an election critical to the future of the LDP.
Adhering to the campaign tactic of “bowing to everybody, even to telephone poles,” Yama-san visits local festivals, senior gatherings, commuter train stations, and even bus stops to offer his hand to everyone he sees. Can he win this heated race? Campaign! The Kawasaki Candidate offers up a microcosm of Japanese democracy.
What are the implications for democracy in Pakistan when secular political parties have succumbed to the Islamic agenda? What does it mean when the army appears to be the only force able to contain the opponents of democracy, the armed Islamists? President Musharraf agrees to explore this apparent contradiction over dinner at his official residence, the Army House.
As the discussion moves in and out of the different worlds in Pakistan a complex tapestry emerges revealing a society unique yet universal. The filmmaker talks to diverse individuals, from labourers to intellectuals, from street vendors to religious right wing political party members, and from journalists to industrialists. What is their idea of democracy in Pakistan? What is their idea of President Musharraf’s vision of a modern Pakistan? Dinner With the President questions the role a military leader can play in guiding a state towards modern democracy.
In his 2005 State of the Union address President Bush cited Egypt as the country that would pave the way for democracy in the Middle East. Three women, unable to sit by while their country is on the brink of drastic change, start a grassroots movement to educate and empower the public by raising awareness on the meaning of democracy. They name their campaign Shayfeen.com - “we are watching you.” This film follows the highs and lows of the first year of their movement in Egypt. Insisting that only the people can make change happen, their goal is to educate the Egyptian public on what it takes to build the most basic pillars of democracy: basic human rights, freedom of speech and the establishment of an independent judiciary. Egypt: We are Watching You highlights the importance of ordinary citizens participating in shaping and securing their democracy.
Mikhail Morozov is a Russian patriot, good Christian and successful businessman. He owns Durakovo - the “Village of Fools” - 100 km southwest of Moscow. People come here from all over Russia to learn how to live and become 'true' Russians. When they join the Village of Fools, the new residents abandon all their former rights and agree to obey Mikhail Morozov’s strict rules. “What we have here is a society that respects the vertical of power, this is what our country needs most of all, “ says Morozov quoting his idol President Putin.
The whole spectrum of power - political, spiritual and administrative – is represented in the village and people gather for semi-private meetings with Morozov. They discuss the future of Russia, their ambitions and their goals. For God, Tsar and the Fatherland shows what drives Russian patriotism today and why these citizens are against democracy.
In the early decades of the twentieth century Mahatma Gandhi’s legacy of non-violent revolution or Satyagraha inspired a mass movement of millions of Indians to rise up against the British colonial state and successfully agitate for the establishment of a democratic and free India. In 2007, the country is preparing to celebrate the sixtieth anniversary of its existence as an independent nation. But what kind of a democracy does India have today? What does it actually mean to live in the world’s largest democracy?
In road-movie style the film crew travels down the famous trail of Gandhi’s salt march, the remarkable mass campaign that galvanized ordinary Indians to join the non-violent struggle for democracy and freedom almost a century ago. Stopping at the same villages and cities, where Gandhi and his followers had raised their call for independence, the film documents the stories of ordinary citizens in India today. Although inspired by a historical event In Search of Gandhi is not a journey back in time. Instead it is a search for the present and future of democracy in India.
After fourteen years of civil war, Liberia is a nation ready for change. On January 16, 2006, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf was inaugurated President, following a hotly contested election which she won with the overwhelming support of women across Liberia. She is the first elected female head of state in Africa. Since taking office she has appointed other extraordinary women to leadership positions in all areas of government, including the Police Chief and the ministers of Justice, Commerce and Finance.
Can the first female Liberian president, backed by other powerful women, bring sustainable democracy and peace to such a devastated country?
Iron Ladies of Liberia gives behind-the-scenes access to President Sirleaf’s first year in government, providing a unique insight into the workings of a newly elected African cabinet.
Che Guevara died in Southern Bolivia while trying to ignite the sparks of revolution throughout South America. His death at the hands of Bolivian Rangers trained and financed by the US Government, marked the beginning of the cocaine era in Bolivia. Forty years later and under pressure from the masses who gave him a clear mandate, the first indigenous President Evo Morales (an ex-coca leaf farmer) is promising to continue the revolution. He has nationalised the oil industry and passed laws on Agrarian reform.
Despite the revolutionary-sounding election speeches and campaign iconography that accompanied his landslide victory, on closer inspection it emerges that the old system is pretty much alive inside the new one. Corruption, nepotism and old-fashioned populism are at the core of this movement. The more Morales does to create employment, the more the landowners conspire against him and paralyse Bolivia’s economy. As a result, no jobs are created and the pressure from the poor increases. The cycle of tension threatens to crush both the country and the indigenous revolution.
Looking for the Revolution is about the dynamics of that tension as witnessed by the characters of the film - the struggle for power between landowners and the indigenous movement, and the continuation of a revolution Morales-style, started so long ago.
Wuhan is a city in central China about the size of London, and it is here that director Weijun Chen has conducted an experiment in democracy. A grade 3 class at Evergreen Primary School has their first encounter with democracy by holding an election to select a Class Monitor. Eight-year olds compete against each other for the coveted position, abetted and egged on by teachers and doting parents. Elections in China take place only within the Communist Party, but recently millions of Chinese voted in their version of Pop Idol.
The purpose of Weijun Chen’s experiment is to determine how, if democracy came to China, it would be received. Is democracy a universal value that fits human nature? Do elections inevitably lead to manipulation? Please Vote for Me is a portrait of a society and a town through a school, its children and its families.
Over one hundred prisoners have died in suspicious circumstances in U.S. custody during the "war on terror". Taxi to the Dark Side takes an in-depth look at one case: an Afghan taxi driver called Dilawar who was considered an honest and kind man by the people of his rustic village. So when he was detained by the U.S military one afternoon, after picking up three passengers, denizens wondered why this man was randomly chosen to be held in prison, and, especially, without trial? Five days after his arrest Dilawar died in his Bagram prison cell. His death came within a week of another death of a detainee at Bagram. The conclusion, with autopsy evidence, was that the former taxi driver and the detainee who passed away before him, had died due to sustained injuries inflicted at the prison by U.S. soldiers.
The documentary, by award-winning producer Alex Gibney, carefully develops the last weeks of Dilawar’s life and shows how decisions taken at the pinnacle of power in the Bush Administration led directly to Dilawar’s brutal death. The film documents how Rumsfeld, together with the White House legal team, were able to convince Congress to approve the use of torture against prisoners of war. Taxi to the Dark Side is the definitive exploration of the introduction of torture as an interrogation technique in U.S. facilities, and the role played by key figures of the Bush Administration in the process.