In 1999, representatives from some of the world's largest and most powerful economic forces met in Seattle, WA, for the World Trade Organization summit. They were met by a diverse group of activists, ranging from youthful peace-punks to veteran trade union members, who intended to publicly air their concerns about issues of economic justice, Third World labor policies, and environmental safety that were being ignored by many of the WTO's affiliates. Police soon clashed with the protesters, the vast majority of which were gathered peacefully and had obtained permits for their gatherings. While Seattle authorities attempted to portray the protesters as a violent rabble in statements to the media, a number of activists armed with film and video cameras were on hand to document the protests, who then used the Internet and independent media outlets to bring their side of the story to the public.
This Is What Democracy Looks Like was compiled by directors Jill Friedberg and Rick Rowley from material shot by more than a hundred "media activists" who captured a side of the WTO protests largely ignored by the mainstream news media. This Is What Democracy Looks Like is narrated by actress Susan Sarandon and Michael Franti, leader of the leftist hip-hop group Spearhead; radical rock band Rage Against the Machine also appears in the film.
With narration by SUSAN SARANDON and SPEARHEAD’s MICHAEL FRANTI, and with a driving soundtrack including RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE, DJ SHADOW, DJ MUSAKA, and COMPANY OF PROPHETS, THIS IS WHAT DEMOCRACY LOOKS LIKE is the first documentary to capture the raw energy of the WTO protests, while clarifying their global and historic significance. The Independent Media Center provided a production infrastructure for over 450 media activists during the WTO protests in November 1999. With autonomous, volunteer-run media centers operating in four continents, ten countries and twenty-one cities, the IMC represents a new and powerful emerging model for independent media.
* Interviews with Noam Chomsky and Vandana Shiva.
* French, Czech and Spanish (*.sub) subtitle files
* English Transcription
Richard Rowley and Jacqueline Soohen are members of Big Noise Tactical Media, a New York based radical media group. Their groundbreaking feature films, Zapatista (1998), Black and Gold (1999) and This Is What Democracy Looks Like (2000), have won top honors at hundreds of film festivals from New York, Toronto and Los Angeles to Berlin, Seoul and Bogota. They have also produced television and video reports from the front lines of struggles around the globe. In 1999, as founding members of the Independent Media Center video team, they collaborated in cutting the historic daily satellite feeds from the WTO protests in Seattle. They have reported for national television news programs from Argentina, Afghanistan, Iraq, Mexico, Ecuador, Brasil, East Timor, South Africa and Palestine, where they were the only media to break the siege on the Church of the Nativity.