REEL POLITICS: Film, Radical Politics, and Solidarity.
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Film and filmmakers have been instrumental in articulating radical political discourses since the early 20th century. As a tool of representing revolutionary struggles, as a form of activism, or as a means of critique, film is a medium of political praxis which presents diverse images of potential worlds, be they cautionary or aspirational. Reel Politics asks how film can function to galvanize forms of resistance and to build solidarity in audiences by contextualizing important political moments and by making them real.
But we must take care – film is of course not always radically oriented and may often be used contra both radicalism and solidarity. Film, while a means of realizing important progressive or radical political goals, also has a powerful capacity to reinforce the politics of exploitation, hierarchy, and injustice.
Historically, film has functioned more frequently as a tool for oppressive propaganda than as a means of liberation, and its capacity for positive change is often contradicted by the circumstances of its production in political economy – the prominence of The Birth of a Nation relative to that of Salt of the Earth, for example, speaks to this predicament. In the hands of reactionary forces or agents of anti-progressive ideas, film quite readily becomes a celebration of ideologies of domination and violence.