We Are Many (2014)
A necessary reminder of a gigantic scandal
Peter Bradshaw, the Guardian
Thursday 21 May 2015
This is a bold and important documentary about the immediate failure – but also the lasting legacy – of the 2003 Stop the War movement.
Rise, like lions after slumber | In unvanquishable number! | Shake your chains to earth like dew | Which in sleep had fallen on you: | Ye are many—they are few!" (From The Masque of Anarchy, a British political poem written in 1819, by Percy Bysshe Shelley)
Here is the remarkable story of the global Stop the War march in 2003, composed of archive clips and contemporary interviews with the organisers and sympathisers, including Peter Oborne, John le Carré, Ken Loach and the late Tony Benn – and also a slightly conceited Richard Branson talking about his behind-the-scenes plans to persuade Saddam to stand down, which sounds like nothing so much as a Jeffrey Archer novel.
The same grim story is told: how after 9/11, Britain’s timid political masters and pro-war liberals were panicked into supporting America’s retaliatory war against Iraq, and brazened it out by helping to create the “weapons of mass destruction” untruth. It is such a gigantic scandal that we have, paradoxically, almost forgotten about it. So this film does a necessary job.
It’s a piece of history that must grapple with both the success of the Stop the War march and its manifest failure: a staggeringly huge demonstration of public opinion that nevertheless did not stop the war.
But Amir Amirani makes a bold case for understanding the march in a larger context: that over the next decade it re-energised people power, sowed the seed for Egypt’s Arab spring and laid the foundations for Labour’s sober, courageous refusal to countenance the attack on Syria. Meanwhile, we wait for the Chilcot report. A very valuable film.
|Condoleezza Rice, Desiree Anita Ali-Fairooz|
Red in the face … anti-war activist Desiree Anita Ali-Fairooz confronting Condoleezza Rice in Amir Amirani's documentary We Are Many. Photograph: Charles Dharapak/AP
On February 15, 2003, millions of ordinary citizens in over 800 cities around the world poured into the streets to protest against the rush towards the invasion of Iraq.
On February 15th, 2003, up to 30 million people, many of whom had never demonstrated before in their lives, came out in nearly 800 cities around the world to protest against the impending Iraq War. The New York Times called this movement the “Second Superpower”.
How did this day come about? Who organized it? And was it, as many people claimed, a total failure?
This fearless, thought-provoking documentary is the remarkable inside story behind the first ever global demonstration, and its surprising and unreported legacy. The film features testimony from a unique cast of direct participants, including organizers, activists, high-profile figures, and of course the public, filmed in seven countries – Italy, Spain, Egypt, Sweden, Australia, UK, and the USA.
Extraordinary testimony from activists in Egypt reveals how on the eve of the invasion of Iraq, the global anti-war protests inspired those in Tahrir Square to go on to engage in the massive democratic movement that ultimately led to the Arab Spring. In the UK, the government was defeated over the proposed invasion of Syria, a historic event that might not have transpired without the legacy of those demonstrations a decade ago.
The star-studded list of contributors includes Danny Glover, actor Mark Rylance, film director Ken Loach, Prof. Noam Chomsky, musicians Brian Eno and Damon Albarn, writer and Vietnam Vet Ron Kovic (author of ‘Born on the 4th of July’), Rev. Jesse Jackson, Richard Branson and Colin Powell’s former Chief of Staff Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, amongst others.
This bold documentary by Amir Amirani charts the birth and growth of the new people power movement, now sweeping the world, taking us up to the Arab Spring and Syria, a little over 10 years after that historic day. (http://wearemany.com/the-film/)