What can filmmakers do to help?

Over the coming weeks, we’d like to use this post as a forum for ideas about how filmmakers can—and do—use narrative and documentary techniques to both catalogue systemic abuses and imagine their solutions. Leah Meyerhoff—who happened to be in St. Louis when the Grand Jury failed to indict Officer Darren Wilson for the murder of Michael Brown on November 24—starts the conversation.


Leah Meyerhoff, director of I Believe in Unicorns, founder of Film Fatales

I went to St Louis for the first time this weekend to screen I Believe in Unicorns at the St. Louis International Film Festival and was quickly swept up by the situation in Ferguson. It was surreal to be in a movie theater with (mostly wealthy, mostly white) audiences when hundreds of people were protesting in the streets less than a mile away. I felt a similar disconnect at the Jerusalem Film Festival during the recent conflict in Gaza. On the one hand, film festivals are supposed be forums for cultural discussion, on the other they can often be social bubbles, cut off from the larger world around them. When I asked festival drivers to take me to Ferguson, I was told they weren’t allowed. Our official tour by the film office took us to the Gateway Arch instead. It was almost as if people were embarrassed by the national attention, hoping it would quietly go away instead of using it as a catalyst for change. Meanwhile the governor declared a state of emergency, schools were closed, windows boarded up, and the news trucks continued to roll in. When I was finally able to speak with protestors directly, they told me that they had been in the streets *every day* for the past 100 days since Mike Brown was killed. They talked about peaceful solutions, community-building, and solidarity. They spoke of police brutality and deep-rooted segregation in a city with a history of racist redlining housing policies. Most of all, they discussed ways to channel their anger and frustration into tangible social change. As an artist, a filmmaker, a woman, and a human being, I stand with the people of ‪#‎Ferguson‬.”


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