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September 14, 2004

{     The Fourth World War - Big Noise Films     }    

We've been experiencing a renaissance of documentary film-making as of late, much of it focused on the tumultuous political climate and the atmosphere of terror that have engulfed the first few years of this new millenium. Many of these films and film-makers decry the current administration's use of fear-based propaganda to sway the minds and hearts of the people, yet often they resort to fear as an audience motivator themselves. The Fourth World War avoids succumbing to such temptation, while still clearly outlining the potential dangers of a globalized economy and political terror-tactics it ultimately offers the one thing that so many other recent films in this genre refuse to provide- hope. Whether it's Chiapas-based freedom-fighters, WTO protestors or everyday Argentinians turned revolutionaries, this film highlights the people behind the struggle for human rights and true freedom. Yes, these are bleak times, and the disparity between rich and poor continues to grow- but there are also victories being won against oppression, and we see here that whenever corrupt government tightens it's hold on the people there are those who are willing to stand against it, at any cost. It becomes clear that the true enemy of freedom is complacency. The most amazing and profound thing about this film is its ability to convey how strong "the people" truly are, even in the face of absolute political opposition. Instead of painting the enemy in broad Orwellian strokes as some unstoppable soul-crushing machine, we see them for the small-numbered minority that they are, frightened and capable of lashing out at any moment to protect their hoarded wealth and notions of power. We understand that when the masses take to the streets, the wannabe kings and pharoahs of the New World Order will be forced to relinquish their thrones. The Fourth World War also takes great pains to show how we are being kept at odds to prevent such insurgency, and how a globalized economy can sap the strength of such resistance. Yes, there are warnings to be heeded here, but also there is hope for a better tomorrow. The film is narrated by Michael Franti (of Spearhead) and Tony-winner Suheir Hammad, and though the script occasionally waxes a bit too poetic or didactic, their voices provide a calm center to the violence on-screen. There is a very eloquent layering of images occuring here as well, and the mixture of grainy lo-tech camcorder shots, crisp digital footage and New Media-style motion video artwork combine to form an experience that is broad and sweeping yet intimate and personal all at once. The soundtrack is laced with pieces from electro-world-music heavies Asian Dub Foundation, Ozomotli, Moosaka, Cypher AD and Manu Chao, and it bubbles brilliantly over the film's visual content. Directors Richard Rowley and Jacqueline Soohen are also responsible for a few other great Big Noise documentaries including Zapatista and This is What Democracy Looks Like. The Fourth World War expands their video-journalist scope from these very specific movements to a larger picture and offers a more accessible take on revolution while not losing any of its depth or impact. The Fourth World War is currently touring throughout the US, check the link below for theaters in your area.

     » Big Noise / The Fourth World War

By Adam in Film & TV

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