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"Vanguard of the Revolution": New Film Chronicles Rise of Black Panthers & FBI's War Against Them

Democracy Now - Fri 07 09 AM

With groups around the country taking on issues of police brutality and accountability, we go back 50 years to another movement confronting the same issues. We spend the hour looking at a new documentary that just premiered at the Sundance Film Festival called "The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution." It tells the history of the Black Panther Party through rare archival footage and interviews with party leaders, rank-and-file members, journalists — and even police and FBI informants. We feature extended excerpts from the film and speak with one its subjects, Kathleen Cleaver, who served as communications secretary of the Black Panther Party and is now a law professor at Emory University. We also speak with Stanley Nelson, the film’s award-winning director. The film is set to play in theaters and air on PBS later this year.

CodePink Attempts to "Arrest" Henry Kissinger for War Crimes in Vietnam, Laos, Chile and East Timor

Democracy Now - Fri 07 06 AM

Activists from the antiwar group CodePink attempted to perform a citizen’s arrest on former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger when he testified on global security challenges at a Senate Armed Services Committee meeting on Thursday. Kissinger served as secretary of state and national security adviser during the Vietnam War under presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford. Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain lashed out at the protesters and called on the Capitol Hill Police to remove them.

Robert Redford Explores Aging in "A Walk in the Woods" and Fall of CBS Legend Dan Rather in "Truth"

Democracy Now - Thu 07 43 AM

Acclaimed director and actor Robert Redford discusses his new film premiering at the Sundance Film Festival, "A Walk in the Woods," in which he co-stars with Nick Nolte. It is a comedy about walking the Appalachian Trail — and getting older. "What are you going to do with what time you have left? Are you just going to sit?" Redford asks. "One thing you don’t want to do is be a guy sitting in a rocking chair on a stoop somewhere in a bathrobe and say, 'I wish I would've, I wish I could’ve.’ So, you make the most of your life." He also talks about his plans to play former CBS news anchor Dan Rather in the upcoming political drama, "Truth," based on Rather’s 2005 memoir about how he was fired after reporting that George W. Bush received special treatment in the U.S. Air National Guard during the Vietnam War. "CBS wanted a relationship with the administration. They asked him to back off," Redford notes. "He said, 'I can't do that. My job is to tell the truth.’" Redford also discusses the attacks earlier this month on Charlie Hebdo magazine.

"It Started as Just a Hope": Robert Redford on Founding the Sundance Film Festival

Democracy Now - Thu 07 30 AM

We speak with director, actor and Sundance Film Festival founder Robert Redford about the festival’s history, now celebrating its 31st anniversary. Sundance is now among the largest film festivals in the country, with some 50,000 attendees. However, it looked very different when it began more than three decades ago. "The first year, there was maybe 150 people that showed up. We had one theater, maybe 10 documentaries and 20 films, and now it’s grown to the point where it’s kind of like a wild horse," Redford says. We also discuss the festival’s efforts to promote women, people of color and young people — on both sides of the camera. This comes as the latest "Celluloid Ceiling" report from researchers at San Diego State University has found men directed 93 percent of the 250 highest-grossing films of 2014. Women directed just 7 percent, a decrease of 2 percent compared to 1998.

Robert Redford & Will Ferrell in Colorado River Spoof: Raise the River vs. Move the Ocean

Democracy Now - Thu 07 24 AM

We play excerpts from a spoof video standoff between Robert Redford and Will Ferrell about efforts to conserve the Colorado River, which provides much of the American West with water. Redford also discusses the documentary, "Watershed," that he narrated and made with his son, Jamie Redford. The Colorado River flows nearly 1,500 miles from its source in the Rocky Mountains to the Gulf of California. Along the way, most of its water is diverted by dams for agriculture and municipal uses, and now the river rarely reaches the Sea of Cortez. Redford notes the Native American and Mexican communities in the southern portion of the watershed "are being starved out. They’re having to move away because they can’t have agriculture there."

Oil Should Stay in the Ground: Robert Redford on Republican Climate Change Deniers and Keystone XL

Democracy Now - Thu 07 14 AM

As we broadcast from the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, we spend the hour with its founder Robert Redford, the Oscar-winning director, actor and longtime environmentalist. Our conversation begins with last week’s vote by nearly half of the Senate to refuse to formally acknowledge the existence of man-made climate change. "I think the deniers of climate change are probably the people who are afraid of change. They don’t want to see change," Redford says. "Too many in Congress are pushing us back into the 1950s." He also responds to the attempt by the new Republican majority in Congress to approve construction of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline. "I had a lot of experience with oil," he says, noting that he once worked in the oil fields. "I think it should stay in the ground. We’re so close to polluting the planet beyond anything sustainable."

As 18 Die on Anniversary of Revolution, Egypt Intensifies Crackdown on Activists, Journalists

Democracy Now - Wed 07 48 AM

At least 18 protesters have been killed as they marked the anniversary of the 2011 uprising in Egypt that toppled dictator Hosni Mubarak, in the bloodiest demonstrations since General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi came to power. A viral video also shows Shaimaa al-Sabbagh, a leading member of the Socialist Popular Alliance Party, being shot dead Saturday at a protest near Tahrir Square. "Like all social change, the fight for democracy in Egypt and across the region is going to continue," says Karim Amer, producer of "The Square," which documented the Egyptian revolution of 2011 from its roots in Tahrir Square and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary in 2014. "What keeps us optimistic is the same critical mass of young people you saw in 'The Square' ... are continuing to stand up." We also speak with film’s director, Jehane Noujaim, about Sanaa El Seif, an assistant producer who worked on "The Square" and is now in prison in Egypt.

Sen. Barbara Boxer on Campus Rape Bill, Climate Skeptics & Why She Supports Obama's War on ISIS

Democracy Now - Wed 07 30 AM

Amy Goodman interviews one of the Senate’s leading advocates for changing the way both universities and the military respond to sexual violence — California Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer. Boxer talks about her proposed bill to require advocates for sexual assault victims on college campuses, her plans to retire from the Senate in 2016, and why she supports President Obama’s campaign against the Islamic State. "War is a last resort, never a first resort," Boxer says. "I don’t support going to war and sending combat troops. I support President Obama’s plan, which is not to do that, but to make sure we can help people fight against this terror group."

"The Hunting Ground": Film Exposes How Colleges Cover Up Sexual Assault and Fail to Protect Students

Democracy Now - Wed 07 10 AM

As a jury in Tennessee has convicted two former Vanderbilt University football players of raping an unconscious student in a dorm room, we look at a groundbreaking new documentary about sexual assault on college campuses across the country. Brandon Vandenburg and Cory Batey could face decades in prison after being convicted of a combined total of 16 felony counts, including aggravated rape. Two other former Vanderbilt football players, Brandon Banks and Jaborian McKenzie, are awaiting trial over their role in the rape. However, the court cases mark a rare example where students accused of sexual assault have actually faced punishment. Premiering at the Sundance Film Festival, "The Hunting Ground" shows how colleges and universities across the nation are covering up sexual assaults and failing to protect students from repeat offenders. We speak with the film’s director, Kirby Dick, and producer, Amy Ziering. Their previous film, "The Invisible War," which exposed the epidemic of sexual assault in the military, won the Audience Award at Sundance in 2012 and was nominated for an Academy Award.

"One Person Can Make a Difference": Ava DuVernay Remembers Film Critic Roger Ebert's Early Support

Democracy Now - Tue 07 55 AM

As Ava DuVernay considers her next steps after "Selma," her first big budget feature film, she offers advice to aspiring filmmakers. "We have to work without permission. Especially as women in this industry. Who are we asking for permission to do what we want to do? That should be eradicated. You need to set a path and start walking." DuVernay discusses her next feature film, which will be a love story and murder mystery set in New Orleans amidst the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, and recalls the impact acclaimed film critic Roger Ebert had on her life, who raved about one of her first projects, "I Will Follow." "He lifted that film from nowhere, and lifted me up with it," she says.

"Selma" Director Defends Film's Portrayal of LBJ-MLK Dispute on Voting Rights Legislation

Democracy Now - Tue 07 43 AM

As we continue our interview with "Selma" director Ava DuVernay, she responds to the controversy around her film’s portrayal of President Lyndon Johnson and his relationship with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The film depicts him as a reluctant, and even obstructionist, politician who had the FBI monitor and harass King. "I’m not here to rehabilitate anyone’s image or be a custodian of anyone’s legacy," DuVernay says. She expresses dismay that the debate has shifted attention from the film’s focus on protest and resistance that continues today over police brutality. DuVernay also describes how she screened "Selma" at the White House for President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama 100 years after D.W. Griffith was there to screen the notoriously racist film "Birth of a Nation" for President Woodrow Wilson.

"The Power of the People": Selma Director Ava DuVernay on Fight for Civil Rights, Voting Equality

Democracy Now - Tue 07 28 AM

In our extended interview with "Selma" director Ava DuVernay, we broadcast excerpts from her Oscar-nominated film, which highlights both Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s leadership in Selma, as well as the grassroots civil rights movement’s role in pushing President Lyndon Johnson to pass the Voting Rights Act, and Coretta Scott King’s secret meeting with Malcolm X while King was in jail. DuVernay also explains her approach to showing police and vigilante aggression used against activists in the movement for civil and voting rights. "There is so much violence in this era that we’re talking about, but I wanted the violence to be something that was reverential to the lives lost … these black lives that mattered," DuVernay says.

Selma Director Ava DuVernay on Hollywood's Lack of Diversity, Oscar Snub and #OscarsSoWhite Hashtag

Democracy Now - Tue 07 16 AM

Today we spend the hour with Ava DuVernay, the director of the acclaimed new civil rights film "Selma," which tells the story of the campaign led by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to draw the nation’s attention to the struggle for equal voting rights by marching from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, in March of 1965. While the film has been nominated for an Oscar for best picture, to the shock of many, DuVernay was not nominated. She would have made history as the first African-American woman nominated for best director. At the Sundance Film Festival, DuVernay joins us to discuss the making of the film and the Academy Award nominations. "The question is why was 'Selma' the only film that was in the running with people of color for the award?" she asks.

Black Lives Matter: New Film on Jordan Davis Captures Family’s Struggle to Convict White Vigilante

Democracy Now - Mon 07 15 AM

We are broadcasting from the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, where a new film takes on the subject of the growing nationwide protests over the killing of unarmed African Americans by examining one of the cases to make national headlines in recent years: the killing of 17-year-old Jordan Davis. The film, "3 1/2 Minutes," tells the story of what happened on Nov. 23, 2012, when four teenagers pulled into a Florida gas station to buy gum and cigarettes. They were soon confronted by Michael Dunn, a middle-aged white man who pulled in next to them in the parking lot. Dunn demanded the boys turn down the music they were playing, and became angry when they refused. He pulled his gun from his glove box and shot at their car 10 times, even as they tried to drive away from the danger. The shots rang out three-and-a-half minutes after Dunn had arrived. In the hail of bullets, Jordan Davis was killed. After the shooting, Dunn fled the scene, went to a hotel with his girlfriend and ordered pizza. He never called the police. In the murder trial that followed, Davis’ parents attended every day, knowing that the prior year, George Zimmerman — the killer of unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin, also in Florida — had successfully avoided being convicted. Both cases highlighted the state’s problematic Stand Your Ground law. We spend the hour with Davis’ mother, Lucia McBath, and father, Ron Davis, who have continued to fight for justice. We are also joined by the film’s director, Marc Silver.

In Victory for Gov't Whistleblowers, Supreme Court Sides with Fired TSA Air Marshal Who Spoke Out

Democracy Now - Fri 07 45 AM

A major U.S. Supreme Court decision has upheld the right of federal employees to become whistleblowers. The case centers on former Transportation Security Administration Federal Air Marshal Robert MacLean. In July 2003, MacLean revealed to an MSNBC reporter that the Department of Homeland Security had decided to stop assigning air marshals to certain long-distance flights in order to save money, despite warnings of a potential plot to hijack U.S. airplanes. MSNBC’s report on the story sparked outcry, and the policy was quickly reversed. MacLean was fired three years later after admitting to being the story’s source. He filed a lawsuit over his dismissal, sparking a multi-year legal battle that ended earlier this week when the Supreme Court ruled on his behalf in a 7-to-2 decision. At issue was whether MacLean’s actions could be protected by the U.S. Whistleblower Protection Act, a law that protects employees if a disclosure exposes unlawful conduct, gross mismanagement or threats to public safety. We speak to Robert MacLean and attorney Neal Katyal, who argued MacLean’s case before the Supreme Court. Katyal is the former acting solicitor general of the United States.